Ontario Provincial Police officers cleared in fatal shooting of Haliburton man

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OPP

Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two officers who fatally shot a 73-year-old man during an exchange of gunfire last summer.

The Special Investigations Unit says the officers’ use of force in shooting Leslie Hegedus was reasonable and proportionate since the Haliburton, Ont., man had already assaulted several people and fired a rifle at police.

The SIU says the shooting was the culmination of a series of events that began the morning of July 15, 2020, when Hegedus went into a Minden, Ont., store without a face mask and assaulted two employees who confronted him.

The agency says he then drove his vehicle at employees gathered outside the store and then took off.

The watchdog says police briefly pursued the vehicle but then decided to go to Hegedus’s home after finding the address linked to his licence plate.

It says Hegedus was hidden in the bushes and fired twice at one of the officers, prompting them to run for cover and call for assistance.

The SIU says two of the officers who arrived at the scene were the ones involved in the shooting.

It says one of them spotted a silhouette in the bushes and called out for that person to show their hands.

The agency says Hegedus instead shot his rifle at one of them, and the two officers opened fire in response.

It says he was struck three times, and the cause of death was later deemed to be a gunshot wound to the right back.

“There can be little doubt that Mr. Hegedus was intent on killing police officers,” the SIU’s director, Joseph Martino, wrote in his report on the incident.

“The officers’ lives were in grave danger and they acted reasonably and proportionately, in my view, in resorting to lethal force of their own.”