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Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique speaks to media during a press conference at the Haldimand OPP Detachment in Cayuga, Ont., on Dec. 28.NICK IWANYSHYN/The Canadian Press

When Randall McKenzie was charged last December with assaulting three people and carrying a concealed, illegal handgun, a court had already banned him for life from owning weapons.

When he was granted bail in that case, earlier this year, the 25-year-old was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device – and, once again, forbidden to possess any weapons. When he didn’t show up for court one day, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Now he faces a first-degree murder charge for the killing of a rookie Ontario Provincial Police officer outside Hagersville, Ont., and the police force’s commissioner has expressed outrage, suggesting Mr. McKenzie should not have been released.

Mr. McKenzie, of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, has been charged along with Brandi Stewart-Sperry, 30, of Hamilton, Ont. She is also accused of first-degree murder.

The slain 28-year-old officer, Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala, had learned just hours before he was killed that he had passed his probationary period with the service.

OPP say Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala was ambushed and shot when responding to a seemingly routine call about a car in a ditch, which he did not know was stolen.HO /The Canadian Press

During a patrol shift Tuesday afternoon, his first as a full-fledged officer, he responded to a seemingly routine call around 2:30 p.m. about a car in a ditch – which he did not realize at the time was stolen, according to police. Almost as soon as he got out of his cruiser, the OPP has said, he was ambushed and shot.

Two suspects took off in a second vehicle that they stole at the scene, from a civilian who had also stopped to offer assistance.

After an hours-long search, Mr. McKenzie and Ms. Stewart-Sperry were arrested nearby. They each appeared briefly in a Cayuga, Ont. court on Wednesday, by video. The nature of the pair’s relationship is unclear, and police have not commented on who they believe fired at Constable Pierzchala.

At a news conference that evening, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique raised the fact that Mr. McKenzie had not been in custody, despite his previous charges.

“I’m outraged by the fact that McKenzie was out on bail,” he said. “Something has to change.”

Court documents show that Mr. McKenzie had a troubled childhood, a history of violence and a pattern of flouting court orders.

According to a February, 2021 decision by the Parole Board of Canada, Mr. McKenzie robbed a restaurant owner at gunpoint in May, 2017, stealing both his cash and car. He later turned himself in, saying he needed the money for drugs.

He received a two-year and 11-month sentence after pleading guilty to robbery, assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and failing to comply.

Man accused of killing OPP officer had been initially denied bail in other case

The parole board noted in its decision that Mr. McKenzie spent the bulk of that sentence in maximum security or segregation, after stabbing another person in custody. He did not complete any rehabilitation programs.

Though he eventually received statutory release (which, by law, allows a person to serve the final third of their sentence under supervision outside of prison, to assist in the transition), he repeatedly breached his conditions, and his release was revoked.

The board expressed concern about his ability to reintegrate into society. At the time, he had previous convictions for assault, failure to comply and mischief. And he was deemed to be at moderate-high risk of committing intimate partner violence.

“You have previously assaulted girlfriends. You failed to complete rehabilitative programs ordered by the court and had inconsistent reporting habits on probation,” the decision said.

According to the decision, Mr. McKenzie began using drugs and alcohol as an adolescent, and eventually became addicted to fentanyl. He did not complete school and left home at age 15.

“It is evident to the Board that you and your family experienced the negative impacts of colonialism,” the decision says. “You have suffered abuse, experienced addiction and have been disconnected from your family and cultural community. These losses and negative experiences are likely linked to your offending.”

It’s unclear from the February, 2021 decision when Mr. McKenzie ultimately completed his sentence. Less than a year later, he was charged with the firearms-related offences in Hamilton.

He was released on bail, and, in addition to being ordered to wear the monitoring device and not possess any weapons, he was required to live with family and attend counselling.

The warrant for his arrest was issued after he failed to attend court in September.

In a statement provided to the Canadian Press, Mr. McKenzie’s family said that “intergenerational trauma is a real thing,” and expressed their condolences to Constable Pierzchala’s family.

“We wish them healing and peace,” the family members, who are not identified in the statement, wrote. “Everyone is having a difficult time processing this and is extremely hurt.”

They said they have been bombarded with hateful messages since the shooting, which say they are “savages and trash and disgusting and that we should rot.”

“We are not horrible people,” they added.

A procession to escort Constable Pierzchala’s body will take place Friday morning, leaving the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto at 9 a.m. and travelling northbound on Highway 400 to his hometown, Barrie.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that police said Randall McKenzie was living in the Mississaugas of the Credit First nation.