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Police watchdog accuses OPP officer of shooting man in Chatham-Kent

The police watchdog accused an Ontario Provincial Police officer of fatally shooting a young man in Chatham Kent last July.

Joseph Martino, director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said he has reasonable grounds to believe an Ontario Provincial Police officer committed a criminal offense in connection with the death of the 24 year old man.

Chatham-Kent Ontario Provincial Police officers responded to a call about a fuel theft from a service station between London and Chatham and followed the vehicle suspected of being involved, heading towards the west towards Highway 401.

“The vehicle ended up in the ditch separating the highway. One of the officers approached the vehicle, his firearm discharged and shot the driver,” the SIU said in its statement.

The man later died in hospital, the statement continued.

Constable Sean O’Rourke has been charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of criminal negligence causing death.

The police union, the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA), said it “supports Provincial Constable Sean O’Rourke of the Ontario Provincial Police Detachment Chatham-Kent , and all of our members who acted in good faith in the performance of their duties on the evening of July 7, 2021, while responding to a service call on Highway 401 near Ridgetown, Ontario.

“This was an absolutely tragic event. Our attorneys will vigorously defend our officer’s actions in court. The upcoming legal process will be long and stressful for all affected and we urge all OPPA members affected by this incident Seek professional and/or peer mental health supports.