Officers charged over fatal shooting of 18-month-old boy
Three Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers in Canada have been charged over the shooting dead of an 18-month-old child in an attempt to prevent a suspected parental kidnapping two years ago.
OPP Constables Nathan Vanderheyden, Kenneth Pengelly and Grason Cappus were accused of manslaughter and criminal negligence, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced on Wednesday. They’re scheduled to appear in court on October 6.
The incident occurred on November 26, 2020 when police received a call claiming that the father of Jameson Shapiro had kidnapped him from his house in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
The officers spotted the truck of the boy’s father outside Kawartha Lakes and tried to stop it.
The SIU said the man ended up driving his vehicle into a police car and another vehicle, while also wounding one of the officers, who tried laying spikes down on the road. After the collision, the three officers opened fire and shot both the driver and his son.
The father succumbed to his injuries in hospital, while one-and-half-year-old Jameson was killed on the spot in the back seat.
The SIU said last year that forensic evidence indicated that the police had shot the child.
“When a tragedy such as this occurs, it affects the families, the community and our whole service. It is devastating when an innocent life is lost during an incident,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said after the charges were pressed against officers.
The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA), which represents the three policemen, said it was “fully supporting” its members. The union described the boy’s death as “a tragic circumstance for all involved.”
“Every single day police officers make split-second decisions that most will never have to make and wouldn’t want to make,” the OPPA insisted. “This case is now before the courts. Everyone is entitled to due process.”