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SIU releases details about fatal shooting of OPP officer in Bourget, Ont. last spring

Ontario Provincial Police cruisers parked at a home in Bourget, Ont. as the investigation continues into a shooting that killed an OPP officer on Thursday. (CP24) Ontario Provincial Police cruisers parked at a home in Bourget, Ont. as the investigation continues into a shooting that killed an OPP officer on Thursday. (CP24)

The Special Investigations Unit has released new details about the fatal shooting of Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Eric Mueller in Bourget, Ont. last spring, as it clears one of the surviving officers of criminal wrongdoing for firing his weapon during the shooting.

Ontario Provincial Police say three officers responded to a call for a disturbance at a home on Laval Street in the early morning hours of May 11. Sgt. Mueller was killed and two others were injured in the shooting.

The SIU says two officers were inside the home when shots "rang out without warning – about nine or ten in the span of two to three seconds," and Mueller was shot while in the mudroom of the home.

The police watchdog invoked its mandate to investigate one of the surviving officer's use of their gun during the incident at the home.  The Special Investigations Unit is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of police officers that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person.

In a report released by SIU Director Joseph Martino Friday evening, the SIU says it, "Found no reasonable grounds to believe an Ontario Provincial Police officer committed a criminal offence in connection with shooting a firearm in the direction of a man."

The SIU also outlined the events at the Bourget home on the morning of May 11, based on the "clear evidence" collected by the SIU at the scene, saying officers were called to the home to check "on the welfare of the complainant."  A resident had called police to report hearing an individual screaming inside the home followed by the sound of a gunshot, according to the SIU.

"(Civilian witness) #1 was concerned that the complainant had shot himself," the report says.

When the first officer (the subject officer who was the focus of the SIU investigation) arrived on the scene, he spoke with the resident who called police and made his way over to the house. A second officer (officer #1 - Mueller) arrived on the scene a short time later. The officers walked around the home, looked through the windows and "banged on the rear door attempting to attract the complainant's attraction," according to the report. Another OPP officer joined them at the front of the house.

The SIU says two officers (the subject officer and officer #1) opened the unlocked front door and entered the dark residence, with one officer announcing "police" and calling out the individual's name "a couple of times."

"The officer drew his firearm, turned right, and walked through an open doorway into a living room. He had taken six or seven steps towards an open door at the far end of the living room when shots rang out without warning – about nine or ten in the span of two to three seconds," the report says.

"The open door led into a bedroom. The complainant was in that room, armed with a rifle. He had fired through the open door and bedroom walls out towards the (subject officer) and officer #1 (Mueller)."

Mueller and the other officer were struck by gunfire, and Mueller was two to three metres behind the other officer in the mudroom at the time of the shooting, the SIU says. The other officer suffered "life-altering injuries."

The third officer ran from the front porch to seek cover behind the police vehicles on the driveway of the home, according to the SIU.

"About 30 seconds after the barrage of gunfire from the complainant ended, the (subject officer) managed to make it to his feet and run out of the house through the mudroom, shooting two or three times in the direction of the bedroom as he did so," the SIU said.

"The officer returned shortly to check on officer #1 (Mueller) from the threshold of the front door into the mudroom but was reluctant to enter. For good reason. The complainant was still in possession of the rifle and standing by the open bedroom door.

"In fact, the (subject officer) had just turned away from the front door when the complainant walked through his bedroom door, and fired two additional rounds through the wall and/or window that lined the front deck. One of those bullets ricocheted and struck (the third officer outside the home) in the left knee."

The SIU says the individual in the home proceeded into the living room and fired more shots through the open door.

"About a minute and a half later, the complainant discharged four more rounds in rapid succession. That was the last of the shooting," the report says.

"The complainant would shortly drop his weapon and surrender into police custody."

The SIU says the first officer in the home that fired their weapon was "grievously wounded" during the shooting.

Martino says based on the evidence, "There are no reasonable grounds to believe the (subject officer) committed a criminal offence."

"It is also evident that the officer’s use of his firearm in defence of himself and his colleagues constituted reasonable force," the report says.

"The complainant had demonstrated a willingness to use lethal force – rapid fire from a rifle – and nothing short of return fire had the potential to meet the pressing imperative of the moment, namely, to immediately deter the complainant from firing again.

"In fact, though the complainant was not struck, it does appear that the (subject officer's) gunfire played a role in his successful exit from the home."

The SIU says body-worn camera footage from the officers was viewed as part of the investigation. Investigators found "numerous bullet holes" on the walls and bedroom door frame, according to the SIU report. 

The SIU report did not identify the three officers, including the name of the officer under investigation for firing their weapon.

On the day of the shooting, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique told reporters the three officers were "ambushed and shot" at the home.

The lawyers for the man charged in the shooting death of Mueller have said the officers were not ambushed.

A statement from lawyers John Hale and Cassandra Richards on May 19 said the suspect, "neither requested nor expected" officers to show up at his home in the middle of the night.

"He had worked a full day, and had recently gone to bed with plans of getting up early in the morning for work. He was in his bed with the lights off, falling asleep, when one or more officers entered his home," the statement said.

"Mr. Bellefeuille made only one 9-1-1 call that morning, a call for help after the incident took place."

Alain Bellefeuille is facing charges of one count of first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Mueller and two counts of attempted murder. Top Stories

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