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Police watchdog clears officer in Dartmouth fatal shooting

An officer who shot and killed a man in Dartmouth last summer acted appropriately because the man was pointing a shotgun at police, Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team has decided after a year-long investigation. (Josh Hoffman/CBC - image credit)
An officer who shot and killed a man in Dartmouth last summer acted appropriately because the man was pointing a shotgun at police, Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team has decided after a year-long investigation. (Josh Hoffman/CBC - image credit)

An officer who shot and killed a man in Dartmouth last summer acted appropriately because the victim was pointing a shotgun, Nova Scotia's police watchdog has decided after a year-long investigation.

The Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) examined the circumstances of a 59-year-old's death in August 2022 on Carleton Street. Its final report said the man, who is not named, died as a result of a single gunshot wound.

The unidentified officer told investigators they fired their carbine after seeing the suspect holding a rifle in firing position.

The officer "and others believed their lives were in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm as a result of [the man's] actions," SIRT concluded.

The use of force "while tragic, was necessary to protect the lives of the officers and the lives of the public," wrote director Alonzo Wright in his final report.

The officer who fired will not face any criminal charges.

Taxi driver called 911 

Wright's report describes how a taxi driver called 911 after dropping a man at his home, reporting an intoxicated passenger had refused to pay and then threatened them with a gun from inside a house.

Uniformed officers arrived shortly after 8:30 p.m. and found the home lit up.

The officer, who was wearing tactical gear and among several officers at the scene, told SIRT they didn't know if anyone else was inside and didn't immediately see the suspect so they decided to get closer so they could contain the area.

The man initially appeared on a porch unarmed but he went back inside and re-appeared on the doorstep holding a long-barrelled rifle, the officer told SIRT.

Several officers reported hearing an officer shout "police" and multiple commands for the suspect to show his hands, which they said he ignored.

"Officers communicated loudly and clearly with the [man] to follow their instructions including that [he] show officers their hands and to drop the shot gun," said Wright.

He said while the officers had less lethal weapons, they "would not have been appropriate in the circumstances given the level of threat."

It outlines interviews with seven Halifax Regional Police officers who responded as well as the taxi driver, the person at a local pub who called the taxi for the man and a neighbour.

The SIRT investigation found the man had been holding a semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun in working order. The report said the trigger lock was on but "this would not be in clear view due to lighting and distance."

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