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Charges withdrawn against WRPS officer charged in 2018 shooting
Published Friday, May 22, 2020 9:12AM EDT Last Updated Friday, May 22, 2020 8:40PM EDT
KITCHENER -- The charges against the Waterloo Regional Police Service officer accused of attempted murder in the shooting of Joshua Hannaford have been withdrawn.
Sgt. Richard Dorling had been charged by the Special Investigations Unit after he shot Hannaford in March of 2018.
Police had responded to an area in Cambridge for reports of a van with two rifles inside that had been stolen from Hamilton.
Dorling arrived and pursued Hannaford.
Court heard that Hannaford approached Dorling with a black-handled object in front of his pants. Dorling fired his gun six times before hitting Hannaford in the leg.
A black-handled knife was found near the scene.
In early March of this year, Hannaford was found guilty of stealing a work van that had two rifles inside.
During the decision, Justice Tony Skarika called Hannaford unreliable and not credible, and said that Dorling did nothing wrong.
At the time, CTV legal analyst Ari Goldkind told CTV Kitchener that the judge had sent a clear message to the SIU, but that the cases were still separate.
“While prosecutors may review this judge’s scathing decision about the accused and commending of the officer these are very much separate proceedings,” said Goldkind.
But in the ruling on May 22, the Crown referred to Justice Skarika's decision, saying it didn't want to abuse the legal system since the same information and evidence would have been presented in Dorling's case.
It's not the end of the matter yet, though.
"The SIU and its principle participants have been put on notice of pending litigation alleging negligent investigation of Sgt. Richard Dorling," says Dorling's lawyer, Bernard Cummins.
In an emailed statement, the SIU says that their test for laying criminal charges is whether there are grounds to believe that an offence was committed.
"If the SIU Director concludes, based on the evidence gathered in the investigation, that those grounds exist, then he or she must cause charges to be laid," the statement goes on.
The SIU also says that the Crown's decision wasn't based on any criticism of their investigation.
"Rather, given that a court had concluded in the trial of the charges laid against Mr. Hannaford that the officer had not used unlawful force, the Crown was of the view that it would be unfair to continue the prosecution against Sgt. Dorling," the statement says.
"The SIU respects the decision of the Crown, and will make no further comment on it."
Regional police say they are glad that this matter has been resolved and that Sgt. Dorling can move on with his career and put this matter behind him.
"Sgt Dorling has our full support," said Mark Egers, Waterloo Regional Police Association president. "We will be supporting him throughout the process of whatever he decides to do. We will be supporting him and holding the SIU accountable."
Dorling was permitted to return back to work in February 2019 in an administrative role. Officials tell CTV Kitchener he is currently not working.