Updated: Jan 26
January 24, 2022
New details have emerged in the killing of gunsmith Rodger Kotanko by Toronto Police that rocked Norfolk County last fall.
Toronto Police obtained a search warrant for Kotanko's home in Norfolk County Ont. on November 3, 2021 and immediately travelled 150km outside Toronto to his home, bringing an ambulance with them. Upon arrival they apprehended Kotanko's wife and surrounded Kotanko in his workshop, where he was meeting with a new customer he had made an appointment with the previous night. Without warning they fired four shots through the window, hitting and killing Kotanko. The police did not alert the local authorities, with whom Kotanko was well known and liked, until moments before executing the raid that left Kotanko dead. After the incident the police returned to Toronto and refused to provide a search warrant or explanation to the family. The Police Officer who shot Kotanko has been unwilling to share his notes with the SUI, who are now conducting an investigation into the incident, which is due to conclude on March 3.
Recently the Toronto Star was able to obtain documents which provide partial explanation for what happened.
According to those documents, Toronto Police seized two illegal handguns that had their serial numbers removed in separate occasions from young criminals based in Toronto. One of those incidents involved using one of the guns in an attempted kidnapping. Lab techniques were able to identity the serial numbers, which were registered to two companies that Kotanko legally owned. Based on this, Toronto Police believed Kotanko had modified the guns and sold them on the black market. The Police were able to convince Judge Chaffe to grant a search warrant for Kotanko's property based on the assumption that he was one of few people with the motive and ability to remove serial numbers from the guns and sell them on the black market.
The biggest question that still remains unanswered is why would the the Toronto Police hone in with such focus, urgency and aggression on a respected 70 year old gunsmith in Norfolk County who was a threat to no one? Why did they bring their own ambulance to execute a search warrant, and why did they not alert the local authorities until moments before the raid/search warrant was executed?
Kotanko's brother Jeff has gone on record saying his brother, a very experienced and expert gunsmith, would have for sure known you cannot effectively remove a serial number unless you remove a chunk of metal from the gun. He also said his brother would have absolutely no motive to sell guns on the black market for minimal profit when he could easily fetch up to $7000 legally per gun and had a long line of regular customers.
Kotanko's family has now launched a $23 million lawsuit against the Toronto Police, alleging excessive force, and claiming the police did not show anyone a warrant on that day. They claim the Toronto Police executed an illegal search warrant via a paramilitary style raid that was negligently planned and executed Kotanko. They also claim the police unlawfully detained and restrained Kotanko's wife, refusing to allow her to comfort him in his dying moments and causing her unnecessary emotional distress. The family say the Police's story so far simply makes no sense.
The statement of claim filed by the family names five unidentified officers with the Toronto Police Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force, an inspector in charge of the task force, Chief James Ramer and the Toronto Police Services Board as defendants.