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SIU clears officers in Lindsay drug raid shootings

Police officers at the scene of a shooting in Lindsay, Ont., June 22, 2011. CITYNEWS.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) won’t be charging any officers involved in a drug raid last summer in Lindsay, Ont., where a Toronto man died and an officer was injured.

Corey Armstrong, 21, was shot to death during the raid on June 22, and Const. Keith Calderwood was shot twice while executing a drug warrant at a home on Georgian Street in Lindsay, about 130 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

The officer was airlifted to Toronto that same day, and is recovering from gunshots to his shoulder and calf, one of which likely came from the suspect and the other from another officer.

Members of the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) were assisting members of the Kawartha Lakes Police Service in the execution of a drug warrant at the Lindsay home, the SIU said in a release Tuesday.

The police allege that drugs were being dealt from the home, and that there were two firearms there.

At 11:20 a.m. on June 22, 10 ERT members broke through the front door with a battering ram. One officer threw a distraction device into the house. They entered, announced their presence and began dispersing throughout the house to secure it, the agency said.

The officers encountered Armstrong in the hallway near the back bedroom. He was shouting as he was running and firing a gun at the officers. Calderwood was hit in the upper right shoulder.

Armstrong was then shot numerous times by four officers. His cause of death was noted in the autopsy report as “multiple gunshot wounds,” the SIU said.

“In my view, they were justified in discharging their firearms multiple times at Mr. Armstrong,” SIU director Ian Scott said in the release. “He represented an imminent threat to all members of ERT because he was advancing on the officers and had fired at them three times with a .45 calibre semi-automatic handgun.”

But the SIU said it wasn’t possible to determine the source of the bullet that hit Calderwood in the shoulder because it exited through his back and couldn’t be located.

“It is likely that Mr. Armstrong fired this “potentially lethal shot.”

The other shot to Calderwood’s right calf came from another officer.

But Scott said that officer can’t be held criminally liable for this “inadvertent injury.”

It was dark in the house, it was chaotic, and there was residual smoke from the distraction device, the SIU said.

“While it is unfortunate that one of his discharges inadvertently struck Const. Calderwood in the right leg, all of the officers were justified given the imminent threat that Mr. Armstrong represented to them,” Scott said.

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.