Police watchdog charges OPP officer in deadly shooting of man in Chatham-Kent

The police watchdog has charged an OPP officer in the shooting 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 committed a criminal offence in relation to the death of the 24-year-old man.

OPP officers of Chatham-Kent responded to a call about gasoline theft at a gas station between London and Chatham and proceeded to follow the vehicle believed to be involved, travelling westbound towards Highway 401.

“The vehicle ended up in the ditch dividing the highway. One of the officers approached the vehicle, and his firearm discharged and shot the driver,” said the SIU 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 causing 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 of our members who acted in the good faith performance of their duties on the night of July 7, 2021, while responding to a call for service on Highway 401 near Ridgetown, Ontario.

“It was an absolutely tragic event. Our lawyers will vigorously defend the actions of our officer in a court of law. The upcoming judicial process will be long and stressful for all impacted and we urge all OPPA Members who are impacted by this incident to reach out for professional and or peer mental health supports.”

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