A Niagara Regional Police Service sergeant who shot a fellow police officer multiple times at a car-crash scene last fall has had his charges withdrawn, after prosecutors determined there would be no reasonable prospect of conviction.
Detective-Sergeant Shane Donovan, 57, was charged in March with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, after he fired at a colleague after they got into an altercation while investigating a collision on a rural road in Pelham, Ont., on Nov. 29, 2018.
The colleague, Constable Nathan Parker, was rushed to hospital. He survived, but suffered serious injuries.
The province’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates all cases involving a police officer that result in serious injury or death, was called in, and in March, Det.-Sgt. Donovan was charged.
The Ontario Provincial Police also launched an investigation, which culminated in charges against Constable Parker.
In court Friday, prosecutor Ian Bulmer said that after reviewing the evidence, the Crown had decided there would be no reasonable prospect of conviction in the case against Det.-Sgt. Donovan.
Mr. Bulmer acknowledged the case – an unusual instance of police on police violence – has attracted “considerable public attention,” but said he could not comment on the reasons for the Crown’s decision because of the unresolved and “intersecting” case against Constable Parker.
Det.-Sgt. Donovan’s lawyer Joanne Mulcahy thanked the Crown for making the “right” decision. She said that she, too, was limited in what she could say Friday because her client will likely be called to testify in Constable Parker’s case.
“However, at those proceedings, Det.-Sgt. Donovan will tell what happened, as he told the SIU,” Ms. Mulcahy said, adding that he was co-operative throughout investigations by both the SIU and the OPP.
“Det.-Sgt. Donovan believed that his actions were fully necessary, fully justified and in defence of his life,” she told the court. “Det.-Sgt. Donovan is a proud member of the Niagara Regional Police Service.”
In an e-mail statement after the court proceedings Friday, NRPS Chief Bryan MacCulloch said: “This isolated incident has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on our community.”
In accordance with the Police Services Act, Det.-Sgt. Donovan is suspended with pay. His employment status will now be under review by the Chief. Constable Parker also remains suspended with pay.
“At this time, we must respect the judicial process and allow this matter to continue to unfold before the courts,” Chief MacCulloch said.
Constable Parker, 53, who is charged with assaulting a peace officer, assaulting with intent to resist arrest, and assault with a weapon, is scheduled to appear in court next week.
His lawyer Joseph Markson said he “cannot fathom the Crown’s decision not to proceed [with charges] against Sgt. Donovan.”
“No theory of the case justifies Sgt. Donovan’s discharging of his firearm multiple times into my client’s body,” Mr. Markson said. “My client, who is still recovering from nine bullet wounds, is shocked and shaken.”