Officers involved in a police shooting that left a one-year-old dead in southern Ontario were told there was a child in the pickup truck they were pursuing and that the driver of the vehicle had a gun, audio posted online indicates.
Three Ontario Provincial Police officers were charged with manslaughter this week in the death of 18-month-old Jameson Shapiro after the shooting in Kawartha Lakes, Ont., nearly two years ago.
A site known as Peterborough Scanner Feed, which publishes articles based on police information, has since posted audio online of what it says is police radio communications on Nov. 26, 2020 after a father had allegedly abducted his young son.
On the YouTube page with a 12 minute audio recording, Peterborough Scanner Feed said it hopes releasing the audio helps listeners “understand the situation a little better.”
The audio adds new details to the sequence of events made public by Ontario’s police watchdog, which investigated what happened and laid the charges against the officers.
As police are pursuing the father’s pickup truck, a woman who appears to be a dispatcher can be heard telling officers of a child’s presence.
“Units just be advised there’s a child in that vehicle, there’s a child in the vehicle,” she can be heard saying.
Not long after that, someone says the driver of the vehicle was seen holding a gun to his head.
“He’s pretty desperate, he had a gun to his head,” someone can be heard saying.
A dispatcher later says police are working on getting the man’s cellphone and have a negotiator on standby to contact him.
The pursuit can be heard continuing for a few minutes until a series of loud bangs are heard.
“Shots fired, shots fired, officer down, officer down,” someone can then be heard saying as more bangs are heard and a series of apparent groans can be heard on the feed.
Someone can be heard asking for medical help and a dispatcher can be heard saying an ambulance is en route.
“We have a child that’s VSA, an officer that’s down,” she says at one point.
The Special Investigations Unit has said three officers opened fire on the father’s pickup truck – while Jameson was in the back seat – after the truck crashed into a police cruiser, injuring an officer who was laying down a spike belt.
Jameson died that day while his father died from his injuries in hospital nearly a week later. The SIU has said evidence suggested police gunfire killed both the father and his child.
OPP spokesman Bill Dickson said Friday that the force “is aware that the dispatch audio has been posted online.”
“This audio will almost certainly be part of the evidence presented in court, therefore so we would not be able to elaborate on any of the details,” he wrote in a statement.
The OPP Association, which represents nearly 10,000 members, said the officers involved in the case were “doing all they could” to apprehend the father who had allegedly abducted his child.
“Our officers were dealing with a man with a gun in a vehicle with his abducted son,” association president Rob Stinson wrote in a statement on Friday. “No police officer goes to work wanting to harm a child.”
Stinson said officers and other staff have been “traumatized” by what happened.
He also said the officer who was hit on that day was very seriously injured, has gone through eight surgeries and is still off work.
“His life has been forever altered. The good news is the officer is recovering as best he can and hopes to return to work,” Stinson wrote.
OPP constables Nathan Vanderheyden, Kenneth Pengelly and Grayson Cappus have each been charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of criminal negligence causing death in Jameson’s death.
They are set to appear in a Lindsay, Ont., court on Oct. 6.
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