By: Daniel Otis News Reporter, Published on Fri Oct 10 2014
Ontario’s police watchdog has ruled there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Peel Regional Police officer with a criminal offence in the March 28 shooting death of gunman Charnjit Singh Bassi, 45, at a courthouse in Brampton.
According to a Special Investigations Unit report, a well-dressed Bassi arrived at the courthouse at about 11 a.m. that day with a 9mm pistol concealed in his jacket. Bassi attempted to enter the busy courthouse through a security checkpoint reserved for lawyers and court staff. Unlike the checkpoint used by members of the public, the line Bassi entered lacked a metal detector.
The SIU did not name the officer in its report, but it has previously identified him as Const. Mike Klarenbeek, 53. Klarenbeek was not available for comment following the release of the report Friday afternoon.
Klarenbeek, a 30-year Peel police veteran, was one of several officers providing security at the court that day. When he asked Bassi to join the public line, Bassi responded by drawing his firearm and firing two rounds at Klarenbeek at point-blank range, the SIU report said.
One bullet struck Klarenbeek in the torso, knocking him to the ground. The other missed.
In the ensuing pandemonium, Bassi made his way through the security checkpoint where he was confronted by another officer. Bassi and the officer each fired a shot. Bassi’s missed while the officer’s shot struck the gunman in the right leg, the SIU said.
Klarenbeek, meanwhile, had gotten to his feet. As Bassi shot at the other officer, Klarenbeek took aim and fired three rounds.
One shot missed. Another entered the back of Bassi’s neck and exited through the front of his face, according to the SIU. The third shot struck Bassi in the left part of his back and lodged itself in his abdomen. Bassi collapsed to the floor and was quickly handcuffed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Klarenbeek was rushed to hospital, where he stayed until April 4. According to Peel police Acting Staff Sgt. David Kennedy, Klarenbeek has yet to return to active duty.
In a statement released on Friday, SIU director Tony Loparco said the law authorizes the use of lethal force by police for self-defence and the protection of others.
“The subject officer had just been shot by Mr. Bassi,” Loparco said. “He had every reason to believe that his life and the lives of those around him were endangered and that he could not otherwise meet that danger than by shooting Mr. Bassi.”
Bassi’s motive in the shooting remains unclear. His family and friends say he had no history of mental illness, nor was he ever known to be violent or own a firearm. Police records, however, show that over the past 15 years, Bassi had at least five run-ins with police in the GTA for offences as varied as possessing stolen property, forging credit cards, assault with a dangerous weapon, and drug possession. He was never convicted for any of these offences.
With files from Star Staff and The Canadian Press