TORONTO — A Toronto police officer is facing criminal charges in the February shooting of a man who was left with serious injuries.
Ontario's police watchdog said officers had responded to a park for a report of a man with a knife. Two police officers fired stun guns at a 31-year-old man, who is Black, and a third officer shot the man twice with his firearm.
The victim, who was identified as Devon Fowlin, was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The Special Investigations Unit said Friday that Const. Andrew Davis has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and one count of discharging a firearm with intent to maim, wound, disfigure or endanger life.
The SIU said Davis was set to appear in a Toronto court on Oct. 3.
"As the matter is before the courts, and in consideration of the fair trial interests of the accused, the SIU will not provide further comment on the investigation," the SIU said in a news release.
Fowlin's lawyer, David Shellnutt, said the charges against the police officer are a "positive step forward" as his client suffered serious physical and psychological injuries.
"These injuries have made the last few months since the shooting nearly unbearable," Shellnutt wrote in a statement. "Life has been incredibly difficult."
The lawyer said police should have met Fowlin with compassion and understanding instead of force.
"We know the long road to recovery Devon can expect and all the aspects of violent trauma that linger for years after," Shellnutt wrote.
"The costs to Devon, his family and our communities runs incredibly high from incidents like this."
Shellnutt also referenced an apology made last year by Toronto police to the city's Black residents after statistics showed a disproportionate use of force on them.
"It's encouraging that officers are being held to account here, but we must ask why this keeps happening," he wrote.
Toronto police apologized to the Black community in June of last year, through then-interim police chief James Ramer, after releasing previously unseen race-based data. Ramer said the force needs to do better.
The statistics released by police showed that Black people faced a disproportionate amount of police enforcement and use of force and were more likely to have an officer point a gun at them — whether perceived as armed or unarmed — than white people in the same situation.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2023.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press