Man critical after being shot by Brantford police

The Special Investigations Unit has been called in following an incident at the Polish Hall at Pearl and St. James Streets late Wednesday morning July 31, 2019 in Brantford, Ontario. People in the neighbourhood say a police officer tased and shot a male in the parking lot. Sunglasses, boots, clothing and a taser can be seen on the ground. Brian Thompson / The Expositor

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A 48-year-old man is in critical condition in hospital after he was shot “multiple” times by police in the parking lot at the Polish Hall at Pearl and St. James Street on Wednesday morning.

A news release from the Special Investigations Unit said Brantford police were called to a residence on Ava Road at about 10 a.m. by a “man in distress.”

When officers arrived at the house, says the release, the man drove away and police followed him to the area of Pearl and St. James streets.

“Soon after the man exited the vehicle, there was an interaction and two officers discharged their firearms,” said the release. “The man was struck multiple times.”

The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

A teenage boy who lives across from the Polish Hall at Pearl and St. James streets said he saw through his window what he believed to be a police officer shoot a man in the Polish Hall parking lot on Wednesday morning.

The young teen, who lives on Albion Street, said he was on his phone when he heard commotion outside sometime between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

He said he saw a tall, skinny man in the hall parking lot walking toward a man be believes was a police officer. He said the officer had a gun and shot the man four times.

“He (the teen) told me he saw the man on the ground shaking and jigging out and he got a feeling in his stomach like he was going to puke,” said John MacDonald, who is a relative of the teen and also lives on Albion Street. “He (the teen) was shaking. He was pretty upset.”

At least nine Brantford police vehicles were at the scene shortly before noon and police had put up yellow tape around the area of the Polish Hall, closing off Pearl Street at Niagara Street and St. James Street between Albion Street and Pearl.

A pile of items, including pants, a belt, sunglasses, work boots and a yellow police taser, could be seen in the parking lot on top of what appeared to be blood stains.

Kathy Proper, who lives on Albion Street just a few doors from the Polish Hall, was sent a photograph on her phone of a man lying on the pavement. She said she was told the man was the shooting victim.

Proper said she was out of town when she got a call from a neighbour who told her about the shooting and was concerned for the safety of her children. Proper said she jumped in the car and called her son.

“I told him not to answer the door to anybody. I never thought I’d have to call home and say, ‘Buddy, there were gunshots. Lock yourself in your room.’”

Proper said the neighbourhood has become more crime-ridden recently.

“In the last couple of years it has gotten really bad,” agreed MacDonald, adding that people in the area have had property stolen and their car tires slashed.

There has been a spate of recent gun violence in the city that residents in the neighbourhood of Wednesday’s shooting say is making them uneasy. So far this year, there have been 23 gun-related incidents in Brantford.

Brantford Police Chief Geoff Nelson called the shootings “unprecedented for our community.”

On July 18, a 64-year-old man and 62-year-old woman were shot and killed in a Park Road South home. On July 8, a 22-year-old Hamilton man was killed on Colborne Street West just past Gilkison Street. On April 5, a 37-year-old man was shot and killed at his William Street home.

Kathy Boake-Trout, who lives on Pearl Street, said she heard noises around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday that sounded like a car backfiring.

“I came out and there were police all over the place,” she said. “This is usually a quiet neighbourhood. It’s scary, especially when you don’t know what’s going on.”

Allan Monette, who lives on Niagara Street, not far from the Polish Hall, said he was outside having a smoke on Wednesday morning when he heard noises.

“It was like bang, bang, bang, bang,” he said. “It thought someone was setting off fireworks as usual.”

Monette and his wife Bonny walked down to the corner of Niagara and Pearl streets where police were gathering.

“It’s getting ridiculous,” said Monette of the recent violence. “I’m actually getting scared to ride my bike.”

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Six investigators and four forensic investigators have been assigned to the incident.

Anyone with information related to investigation is asked to call 1-800-787-8529. Anyone with video evidence is asked to upload the video through the SIU website.

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