Police watchdog indicts OPP officer for fatal shooting of man in Chatham-Kent

The police watchdog has charged an OPP officer with the death of a young man in Chatham Kent last July.

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

Chatham-Kent OPP officers responded to a call about petrol theft at a service station between London and Chatham and continued to track the suspected vehicle, heading west on Highway 401.

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

The man later died in hospital, the statement continues.

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

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

“It was an absolutely tragic event. Our attorneys will vigorously defend our officer’s actions in court. The upcoming judicial process will be long and stressful for all involved and we urge all OPPA members affected by this incident to engage mental health professional and/or peer support.”

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