Three Ontario Provincial Police officers have been charged with manslaughter in the death of a one-year-old boy after a shooting in Kawartha Lakes, Ont., nearly two years ago, the province’s police watchdog said Wednesday.
The Special Investigations Unit announced Wednesday that OPP constables Nathan Vanderheyden, Kenneth Pengelly and Grayson Cappus have each been charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of criminal negligence causing death in relation to death of 18-month-old Jameson Shapiro.
The SIU has said officers shot at the boy’s 33-year-old father in his car in Kawartha Lakes, Ont., after he allegedly abducted his child on Nov. 26, 2020.
Jameson died that day while his father died from his injuries in hospital nearly a week after the incident.
The SIU has said three police officers opened fire on the father’s pickup truck while Jameson was in the back seat after the truck crashed into a police cruiser, injuring an officer who was laying down a spike belt.
The agency has said evidence suggested police gunfire killed both the father and his child.
Police have said they found four guns at the scene, three belonging to the officers and one found near the father’s truck.
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique extended sympathies to the family in a statement Wednesday, saying it is “devastating when an innocent life is lost during an incident.”
Carrique said the OPP would not comment further as the case works its way through court.
Rob Stinson, president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association – the union which represents nearly 10,000 members – said in a statement the “incident is a tragic circumstance for all involved.”
“We are fully supporting our members charged and our officers and civilian staff affected, with some still off work. It has impacted many people, families, first responders, and our members. Every single day police officers make split second decisions that most will never have to make and wouldn’t want to make,” he said.
“This case is now before the courts. Everyone is entitled to due process. Our members have cooperated with the investigation in accordance with the law.”
In January 2021, the SIU said the three officers who opened fire had not agreed to be interviewed, and were under no legal obligation to do so. At the time, the SIU had interviewed 18 police officers and 14 civilians as part of its investigation.
The SIU said Wednesday it would not comment further on the investigation, with the case before the court.
The probe was at one point put on hold while the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted ballistic testing.
The charged officers are set to appear in a Lindsay, Ont., court on October 6.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.
Jordan Omstead, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. The Special Investigations Unit has issued a correction to the name of one of the officers who has been charged.