ASIRT Confirms CPS Officer’s Actions Justified

On Nov. 3, 2015, pursuant to s. 46.1 of the Police Act, the Director of Law Enforcement directed the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) to investigate the circumstances surrounding an officer-involved shooting that injured a 20-year-old man.

At approximately 4:41 p.m. on that date, officers of the Calgary Police Service (CPS), along with the Calgary Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, went to the area of Dermot Baldwin Way S.E., in front of the Calgary Drop-In Centre’s east entrance in response to 911 calls of a hit and run vehicle/pedestrian injury collision.  En route, officers were advised that a similar vehicle had been involved in other criminal events earlier that day. It was previously reported that after stealing a vehicle, the occupants exited it, brandishing a baseball bat and what appeared to be a handgun. This information aided the officers in believing that the occupants of the vehicle might constitute a significant and continuing risk to public safety.

Just moments after officers arrived, the vehicle travelled east on 5 Avenue S.E., jumped a curb on the south side of Dermot Baldwin Way, then drove onto a large extended sidewalk where pedestrians were standing. While four uniformed officers were standing near one of the police vehicles – a police van – the vehicle continued northbound travelling in a straight line towards it. One officer, who was opening the front driver’s door of the van, saw the vehicle moving directly toward him. While calling out to the other officers, he jumped through the open door, and narrowly escaped being struck and crushed between the suspect vehicle and the van. Another officer who was standing near the front driver’s side of the van drew his police service weapon, and upon the vehicle striking the driver’s door, was forced to step back and push off the front hood of the van to avoid being hit.  The officer discharged his police service weapon into the front windshield of the vehicle twice, towards the driver. While the four officers ran after the vehicle, the driver turned east onto the sidewalk, manoeuvering between emergency vehicles, and then drove north on the sidewalk causing three civilian pedestrians to have to take immediate evasive action to avoid being struck. The driver continued to travel the wrong way on 4 Avenue S.E. Upon turning west onto Riverfront Avenue S.E., the driver struck a civilian vehicle that was parked on the road and then swerved back into the driving lane, continuing west. The vehicle finally came to a stop on Riverfront Avenue, west of Macleod Trail S.E., where an off-duty CPS officer apprehended the two occupants. At this time, it was confirmed that the driver had been struck by one of the bullets in the left upper chest area. Immediate medical attention was given and upon the arrival of Emergency Medical Services, he was treated and transported to hospital. He has since recovered from his injuries.

ASIRT Executive Director Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., received the completed ASIRT investigation and after having carefully reviewed the evidence has confirmed that there are no reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe that the officer involved committed any criminal offences. The officer’s actions were both reasonable and justified in law.

Based on the available evidence, it is very clear that the conduct of the driver constituted a very real risk of grievous bodily harm, if not death, to the officer who barely escaped being struck, as well as other pedestrians in the area. Only the good fortune and good reflexes of those in the path of the vehicle prevented serious harm.

As this matter is now before the courts, ASIRT will not provide any further details in relation to this investigation.

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.