WARMINGTON: Tragedy for boy’s family and officers charged in his death


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An attempt to get justice for Jameson?

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Or an effort to blame the cops who tried to save the baby from extreme danger?

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The debate is launched — and soon the criminal proceedings.

“Shocked, traumatized and forever touched” are the words used to describe the reaction of three Ontario Provincial Police officers charged with the shooting death of the 18-month-old boy.

Needless to say, when the SIU issued the decision Wednesday to charge three OPP officers, the policing community was stunned and concerned about what it could mean for individual officers. Media coverage surrounding Constables Nathan Vanderheyden, Kenneth Pengelly and Grayson Cappus facing manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death has omitted important details we report here today.

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There is nothing routine about this story – nor about any police calls.

« No police officer goes to work wanting to harm a child, » Ontario Provincial Police Association president Rob Stinson said Thursday. « Every day, police officers make split-second decisions that most will never have to make and wouldn’t want to make. »

“We will support our indicted officers to defend themselves rigorously in court,” he added.

Investigators examine the scene on County Road 17 in Kawartha Lakes, Ont., after a deadly police shooting on November 26, 2020.
Investigators examine the scene on County Road 17 in Kawartha Lakes, Ont., after a deadly police shooting on November 26, 2020. Photo by FRED THORNHILL /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Who is primarily responsible for the death of Jameson Shapiro is what is at the heart of a blockbuster case.

The boy’s gun-toting father, William Shapiro, 33, who was fatally shot by police on November 26, 2020, after abducting and knocking him down and a cop who has since undergone eight surgeries and suffered life-changing injuries during his attempt to flee from the police?

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Or the three officers who ultimately used lethal force that unfortunately resulted in the death of the father and the kidnapped baby?

The courts will decide.

But as the evidence is presented, it’s not like in the United States where four officers were prosecuted for kneeling on a man for a minor offense as we saw in the murder of George Floyd. They were officers in pursuit of an armed man who had abducted a child.

“The incident began with a service call from a frantic mother alleging a serious criminal offense of kidnapping her son,” Stinson said. « Our officers were dealing with a man in a vehicle with a gun and his kidnapped son. »

« The man was driving recklessly through multiple jurisdictions, and police were in a long chase, doing everything they could to apprehend the man safely, » he said.

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After crashing his truck, shots were fired.

The SIU recovered the three police pistols and a handgun found in the suspect’s truck where the infant was fatally shot. It was devastating for the mother, Tara Shapiro – described on a GoFundMe page which raised $67,000 as a ‘single mother who raised her two autistic boys and is now mourning the loss of her youngest Jameson’.

He describes Jameson as “a bubbly lad who was known to share his warmth and cheerfulness with everyone around him. Her smile will be remembered by all who experienced it.

Jameson Shapiro, 18 months, was shot on November 26, 2020.
Jameson Shapiro, 18 months, was shot on November 26, 2020. GoFundMe

Sources close to these three officers say everyone involved is heartbroken.

“Our police officers, communications operators and all of our support staff, along with their families, have been traumatized by this event,” Stinson said. « We have empathy for the death of the child, his mother and his family. »

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But manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death charges that could see officers face jail time if found guilty? It’s not something anyone in law enforcement expected at all – let alone be assigned to all three.

« It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Crown will show how the three officers’ bullets killed Jameson, » said a retired senior OPP officer. « I’ve never heard of such a thing before. »

None of the charges or defenses have been tested. That’s what the court is for. But no one should forget the human aspect.

“Now that the SIU investigation is complete and charges have been laid, our members are shocked and even more traumatized, and their lives and those of their families will be forever affected,” Stinson said.

Appearing in Kawartha Lakes courts in October, they know the coming years are going to be hell for a mother of a baby and the three cops the SIU says are responsible for her death.


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