A Peel Regional Police officer fired his rifle at an armed Mississauga boy who had tried to rob two businesses and carjack two vehicles before pointing his gun at officers during a standoff with police.
These are some of the findings of a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) probe that concluded the officer was justified in shooting and ultimately killing Ozama Shaw, 15, at a Mississauga plaza.
Shaw was shot in the stomach on July 27, 2017, but died in hospital nearly a month later, on Aug. 26. His weapon turned out to be an unloaded pellet gun, but SIU director Tony Loparco ruled there was no way officers could know that and couldn’t take any chances during the volatile and fluid encounter.
The dramatic incident at the Credit Valley Town Plaza unfolded just before 2 a.m.
The SIU ruled Shaw was with a group of teens when he tried to rob a Petro Canada gas station attendant in the area at gunpoint, but then “aborted” the heist and tried, unsuccessfully to rob an employee at a Pizza Pizza restaurant in the plaza by pointing “the same black handgun directly at the face of the restaurant employee standing by the cash register.”
The employee was aggressive with him and Shaw fled the area.
Shaw had come to the area with his group of friends in an Audi sedan that had been reported stolen, the SIU said.
The group fled in the Audi and left Shaw behind. Shaw then tried to carjack two vehicles unsuccessfully, with both drivers thwarting the crime by driving away.
The woman involved in the first attempted carjacking, along with employees from both businesses, called 911.
Several officers responded and found Shaw armed in a BMO.
One of the officers, taking cover behind his cruiser, shouted repeatedly at Shaw to put the gun down as the officer had his C8 rifle drawn.
According to the SIU ruling, Shaw instead raised the handgun in the direction of the police and he was shot by the officer.
The female driver involved in the first attempted carjacking recorded some of the encounter on her smartphone.
She can be heard in the recording saying “Oh my God, oh my God, I called you guys not to kill him. Please don’t kill him, please. Oh no wait, no God. Please don’t kill him. Oh my God, this is my fault, I know, guys don’t kill him.”
Shaw died in hospital on Aug. 26, 2017.
“Numerous emergent and elective surgeries were performed in efforts to stem internal bleeding and to treat systemic infections secondary to the gunshot wound,” SIU director Tony Loparco said in his ruling.
It was later determined Shaw had an unloaded pellet gun.
But, Loparco ruled, there was no way for the officers to ascertain whether it was a real gun or an imitation and deemed the shooting justified.
The officer who shot Shaw “believed that he, or others, were at risk of death or grievous bodily harm at the time that he discharged his rifle,” Loparco said. “Furthermore, the (officer) advised that he considered that the incident was taking place in an area where there were numerous civilians and police officers present, as well as residential housing, and as such, the complainant not only posed a danger to the life of the (officer), but to numerous other police officers and members of the public.”
Shaw is believed to be among the youngest people killed by police in Ontario. He died at the Hospital for Sick Children after undergoing 11 surgeries and procedures in 30 days to treat a gunshot wound to his abdomen.
“They allowed me to go on the bed with him, so I held him,” Kadene, his mother, said in an interview with the Star from her Mississauga home days after her son died. “I still refused to believe, because I didn’t want to let go of my baby. It was the hardest thing to do.”
Louie Rosella is a reporter with The Mississauga News and Brampton Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org