Anthony Divers was shot and killed last September. Ten months later, the SIU has cleared the officer.
By Scott Wheeler
August 11, 2017
More than 10 months after their brother was fatally shot by a Hamilton police officer, the grieving family of Anthony Divers continues its search for answers after the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) decided against pressing charges in the case.
His three siblings say they suffered “mental torture” awaiting SIU director Tony Loparco’s findings in the investigation only to learn “absolutely nothing” new.
Divers, 36, was shot and killed after the officer responded to a call about a man who was possibly armed with a gun and had committed an assault which they confirmed caused “a serious injury” to a woman’s left cheek on September 30.
In the report, released late Thursday night, the police watchdog agency wrote that the officer followed Divers from a bus shelter and ordered him to “stop” and “get down.”
Divers’ right hand remained under his sweatshirt during the exchange, leading the officer to believe he was hiding a gun, Loparco wrote.
After the officer unholstered his gun and pointed it at Divers, demanding he show his hands, Divers reportedly turned around, lifted his right hand and took two steps towards the officer, who fired a pair of shots.
It turned out Divers was not armed.
“There was nothing there that gave us any closure,” Divers’ older brother Edward said. “You can’t even grieve yet.”
“We have been sitting for 10 months knowing exactly what we’ve known since day one: That my brother was in mental crisis, unarmed, and shot and killed for nothing,” added his sister, Yvonne.
The Divers’ lawyer, Roy Wellington, says it’s “unacceptable” the family and the public haven’t had access to some of the evidence used in the report, including a full transcript of a witness interview, a surveillance video, and further details about the officer.
“There’s a lot in (the report) about Tony and nothing really about the officer. He’s the one who made the decision to shoot someone,” Wellington said. “I want to know how under control this officer was.”
Loparco concluded that, at the time, the officer fired the shots, he “subjectively, had reasonable grounds to believe that his life was at risk” based on his observations and his knowledge of Divers’ past behaviour.
The woman assaulted had a restraining order against Divers, who had past violent behaviour, according to the report. The night of his death, there were reports that he was “anti-police” and possibly high on crystal meth and fentanyl.
Divers’ siblings say his history shouldn’t have affected the case, or the officer’s actions at the time.
“We all have a past and my brother was no exception. We do not deny or take pride in Anthony and neither did he. His past should not and did not play a part in his death,” Yvonne said.
“It doesn’t matter about anybody’s past. Anyone who thinks that on this planet is crazy,” echoed Edward.
They say they’ll continue to seek justice.
“Somebody has to be accountable. Not just the frontline officer. This goes up to the man that’s telling them that you need to kill if you think there’s a little bit of danger,” Edward said. “This just can’t be blown over like every other case.”
“Regardless of what he’s hearing, he still has to have an eye, because the person he is pursuing may not have a gun, as what happened in this case,” Yvonne added of the officer. “These cops have got to start learning to assess their surroundings, try de-escalation. They just automatically pull out that gun and shoot.”
Based on a statement made by a civilian witness, Loparco said he believed the officer had “no other option remaining to him other than to fire.”
Wellington hasn’t closed the door on filing a civil action against the officer, the police service, or the special investigations unit. He hopes the coroner will call an inquest.
“I’m disappointed that we are here again with decisions that, in my view, are looking to exonerate officers, rather than holding them to account,” Wellington said. “Once the field work is concluded, it shouldn’t take many months for a director to render a decision.”