36-year-old man killed after police responded to report of assault at downtown bar

Police officers walk between a parked cruiser and van.

Gary Yokoyama, The Hamilton Spectator
A large police presence Saturday at the Hunter Street GO station near an early morning fatal police shooting.

Hamilton police fatally shot a man on James Street South late Friday night.

Cab driver Khalid Yousaf said the man was shot twice. “Then he fell down,” Yousaf, a driver for Blue Line, told The Spectator early Saturday morning.

Shortly before midnight, patrons of James Street South bars near Augusta Street heard shots ring out and rushed outside to see what had happened.

“All we heard was a crack and then someone yelled, ‘A police officer just shot a person,'” said Jeff Hart, who was in Uno Mas, at 150 James St. S.

Yellow police tape created a perimeter around the scene — from just south of Bold Street to Hunter Street and from James to John streets — early Saturday.

Behind the tape, a cruiser was parked in front of an out-of-service city bus on the west side of James between Bold and Augusta. It’s not clear what role, if any, the bus played in the incident.

A backpack and other discarded items could be seen on the street just outside the James South driveway to the Hunter Street GO station.

“We’re just in the beginning of an investigation,” said Staff Sgt. Nancy Lantz, declining to offer any details of the incident.

An officer at the scene said the incident would become a Special Investigations Unit probe. [Update: The SIU is now involved.]

The SIU is an arm’s-length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

Paramedic supervisor Craig McCleary said EMS transported a man from the scene to St. Joseph’s hospital. He was later pronounced dead at hospital.

Yousaf recalled pulling out of Augusta onto James when he spotted the man on the west sidewalk.

He thought he’d try picking up a customer, but then the police officer showed up and he realized something was wrong.

The officer told the man to stop walking away.

“He never stopped. He walked the opposite way,” Yousaf said.

The officer followed and kept telling the man to stop, he added.

Then the man — in the middle of the road north of Bold — turned to face the officer and stretched out his arms and palms, Yousaf said, mimicking the motion.

“Then, he fired.”

Yousaf couldn’t speculate as to why the officer shot the man, who seemed to be about 35 years old and stood about five-foot-eight.

“I don’t know.”

Witnesses who didn’t see the shooting but took in the ensuing commotion describe officers running to the scene.

“There was an echo. You couldn’t miss it,” said Dale Graham, who was at the YMCA on James Street South at Jackson Street.

Graham left his third-floor room and went to see what had happened.

“I could see a guy on the ground. White hoodie.”

Police, then paramedics, started to work on the man, Graham said.

Heavily armed officers with shotguns and flak jackets arrived on scene, he added.

Others say police who were providing security for a crew shooting a television show nearby rushed to the scene after hearing the shots.

“They were running down James,” said Jennifer Hart, who was with her husband, Jeff, in Uno Mas.

“It’s just weird for Hamilton,” Jeff added.

GO Transit

The GO Transit Hunter Street station was closed for several hours overnight because of the police investigation but had reopened Saturday morning.

Source (with video and SIU report): The Hamilton Spectator