Criminal charges laid against the three Ontario provincial police officers involved in the death of a one-year-old boy in Kawartha Lakes, Ont. in 2020 have been withdrawn.


During an appearance at the Newmarket, Ont. courthouse on Monday, Justice Paul L. Bellefontaine announced a stay of charges laid on OPP constables Nathan Vanderheyden, Kenneth Pengelly and Grayson Cappus.


The three constables were previously facing one count each of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and reckless discharge of a firearm in relation to the death of 18-month-old Jameson Shapiro.


On Nov. 26, 2020, Jameson was killed by police gunfire during a vehicle chase between officers and his 33-year-old father. Earlier that day, it had been reported to police that Jameson’s father had abducted the child, according to Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit, an arms-length agency that investigates police interactions that result in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault.


Jameson died at the scene, while his father died from his injuries in hospital nearly a week later.


In January 2021, the SIU said the three officers who opened fire had not agreed to be interviewed and were under no legal obligation to do so. At the time, the SIU had interviewed 18 police officers and 14 civilians as part of its investigation.


The probe was at one point put on hold while the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted ballistic testing.


The officers were charged by the SIU nearly two years later, in August 2022.


In a statement issued after Monday’s stay of charges, the Ontario Provincial Police Association described the result as “vindicating” in a case that has been “tragic for all.”


“When an incident such as this occurs, it affects the families, the community, and our entire policing family.” President John Cerasuolo said in the statement. “It is our duty to serve and protect and we take that duty very seriously. Unfortunately, as police officers protect public safety in highly volatile and fast-moving dangerous situations, unexpected outcomes may result.”


Cerasuolo said the association has stated “from the outset” that the officers involved acted professionally and “courageously,” and that it was confident that the officers would not be found criminally responsible as the case moved through the courts.


“It is important for the public to understand that if police are charged with an offence, they have the presumption of innocence, and in this case, it has been determined that on the totality of the evidence there was no reasonable prospect of conviction. Our officers were doing their job according to their training,” he continued.


The association encouraged those impacted by the deaths to seek mental health resources available through the Canadian Mental Health Association.


With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News’ Beth Macdonell. 



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