On October 29, 2014, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed by the Director of Law Enforcement to investigate injuries sustained by a man as a result of the deployment of a police service dog.
On October 28, 2014, shortly after 8 p.m., a vehicle that had been reported stolen came to the attention of members of the Calgary Police Service (CPS). The vehicle had also been the subject of a possible impaired driving complaint. CPS followed and attempted to stop the vehicle at which point the driver nearly ran down two officers who were outside their marked police vehicles and who would have been hurt had they not taken evasive action to avoid getting struck. The driver advised ASIRT investigators that he had decided he wasn’t going to give the vehicle up and that if the police had not moved he would have “hurt them”.
The driver engaged police in a lengthy pursuit during which he drove in an egregious and dangerous fashion, intentionally colliding repeatedly with a woman’s vehicle that just happened to be on the road he was taking, and colliding with vehicles belonging to two other civilians. He also intentionally rammed an RCMP police vehicle, disabling it.
A spike belt successfully rendered the suspect vehicle inoperable, and it swerved into a ditch, effectively immobilized, although the driver continued to try and escape, spinning the flat tires and revving the engine. The driver failed to follow commands. A police service dog grabbed the driver’s left arm through the driver’s side window but it lost its hold. The driver continued to refuse to comply with commands and was pepper sprayed twice with no impact. The window on the passenger side was broken and the door opened so the police service dog could enter the vehicle. It grabbed the driver’s right elbow and dragged him from the vehicle. As the man was noted to have sustained significant dog bites to both arms, an ambulance was called and he was transported to hospital. At the time of the incident, the man’s blood alcohol level was 318 mg%, almost four times the legal limit.
ASIRT Executive Director Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., received the completed investigation and after a careful review of the evidence has concluded that the driver’s conduct created circumstances that constituted a high risk take down for police and the deployment of the police service dog was reasonable in those circumstances. The driver did not follow the direction of police, continued to attempt to operate the vehicle, which was in gear, and he was not deterred by the first deployment of the dog or the use of pepper spray. It is due, in large measure, to the effective deployment of the police service dog that the safety of officers on scene was secured.
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.