On November 13, 2015, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 45-year-old man whose body was found in a wooded area near 32nd Street within the Red Deer city limits on Nov. 11, 2015. The RCMP had attempted to arrest the man in the same area on Oct. 6, 2015.
ASIRT conducted an investigation to determine whether any act or omission by the RCMP caused or contributed to his death. There were two primary focuses of this investigation: a determination of whether there was any use of force by police that caused his death, and whether there was any negligence by police in failing to locate him.
On Oct. 6, 2015, members of the Red Deer RCMP attempted a traffic stop on a stolen Honda Civic that was later determined to have been driven by the man. When the man failed to stop, police deployed a spike belt that succeeded in eventually bringing the vehicle to a stop. Upon the vehicle stopping, the man fled on foot into a wooded area near 32nd Street.
RCMP officers began pursuing the man on foot, however he avoided arrest. One member came close to catching up with the man, but ultimately he was unable to do so when the man went over a fence and out of sight.
Officers searched the area where the man was last seen, including the use of a police service dog. At one point an individual believed to be the man was seen running toward Waskasoo Creek, but he could not be found. Police abandoned their search after their efforts to locate the man yielded no further signs of his whereabouts. Officers found identification belonging to the man during a search of the Honda Civic left at the scene and recorded the information to further their stolen vehicle investigation and subsequent efforts to find him.
On Oct. 21, 2015, a family member filed a missing person report regarding the man, leading to an investigation into his whereabouts. On Nov. 11, 2015, police found the man’s body submerged in Waskasoo Creek, near the area that he was last seen on Oct. 6, 2015. An autopsy conducted Nov. 12, 2015 determined that the cause of death was non-criminal.
ASIRT conducted a thorough and independent investigation into this allegation. ASIRT executive director Susan D. Hughson, QC, received the completed investigation and after a careful review of the evidence has confirmed the conduct of the officers involved in both the attempt to apprehend the man and the attempt to locate him did not, in any way, cause his death. At no time was there actual physical contact with the man and any of the involved officers. Additionally, the search was appropriately conducted and resourced, albeit unsuccessful.
No criminal charges will stem from this incident.
This finding in no way diminishes the sad fact that a family has lost a loved one in tragic circumstances. On behalf of ASIRT, the executive director extends condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.