Skip to content

NBPS marks 50 years since Cst. Len Slater killed in line of duty

On December 1, 1973, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Cst. Slater responded to reports of a man with a gun in an Oak Street parking lot
north bay police building winter turl 2017(1)
Constable Leonard Slater Memorial Building — North Bay Police Service headquarters

December 1 marks 50 years since North Bay Police Service Constable Leonard George Slater was killed in the line of duty while responding to reports of a man with a gun in a downtown North Bay parking lot.

According to a news release, born in 1941, Slater was raised in Bracebridge, Ont. In 1960, he moved to Toronto and soon joined the Ontario Provincial Police, with whom he served until 1968 when he joined the North Bay Police Service.

At the time of his death, Slater was 32, married, and the father of a 12-year-old son and two daughters, ages eight and 10.

On December 1, 1973, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Cst. Slater responded to reports of a man with a gun in an Oak Street parking lot.

That night, local resident, Camille Joseph Ethier, age 24, had been drinking at a North Bay tavern. He became upset when he observed his friend's girlfriend with another man. Ethier left the tavern and walked across Oak Street to a municipal parking lot where he opened the trunk of his car, removed and started to load a single-shot 12-gauge shotgun.

On duty that evening was Constable Gord McCourt. A citizen approached him, reporting a man with a shotgun in the parking lot. Arriving at the parking lot, Cst. McCourt observed Ethier standing with the shotgun laid across a parked car. McCourt notified police dispatch of the situation and gave his location.

Slater was advised of the incident by the Duty Sergeant and immediately left to assist McCourt. In the parking lot, McCourt approached the gunman on foot. Ethier responded by pointing his shotgun at the officer. Taking cover behind a parked vehicle, McCourt drew his service revolver. He ordered Ethier to drop the shotgun. Ethier did not comply with the officer's demands.

As McCourt reached into his police vehicle to obtain the radio microphone, Ethier fired, striking McCourt in the left shoulder. Wounded, McCourt fired four shots from his service revolver as Ethier fled. Now able to reach the radio microphone, McCourt advised police dispatch that he had been shot.

Also on patrol and hearing the radio transmission, Constable Norm Shillington immediately responded. Several other officers also left police headquarters to respond to the incident. Slater was the first officer to arrive at the scene. Gun drawn, he exited his police vehicle and walked toward McCourt's vehicle. Ethier observed Slater approaching and hid behind a vehicle in the parking lot. As Slater walked by the vehicle, Ethier fired a shot, which struck Slater in the back of the head.

As Ethier walked towards McCourt's location, Cst. Shillington arrived at the parking lot. As Shillington attempted to bring his police vehicle to a stop, Ethier aimed his shotgun at the officer and fired, striking the car window. Shillington exited the right passenger door and took cover behind the vehicle. He fired a shot from his service revolver at Ethier, striking him in the throat.

Ethier fell to the ground but got up and ran, hiding behind a parked vehicle and exchanging shots with Shillington. He then approached the parked vehicle and located Ethier on the ground, face down, at which point other back-up officers arrived on the scene.

Officers immediately transported McCourt to the hospital in a police vehicle. Slater and Ethier were transported to the hospital by ambulance. Shortly afterwards, the officers were notified Cst. Slater had succumbed to his injury. Cst. McCourt and Ethier would survive their wounds but McCourt would be left partially disabled due to his shoulder injury.

On April 20, 1974, Ethier was convicted of non-capital murder in the slaying of Slater. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Charges of attempted murder in relation to Constable Shillington were adjourned sine die (not proceeded with).

The North Bay Police Service remembers Constable Leonard George Slater as a hero in life, not in death. His memory, bravery, and service to his community will forever be recognized.