On June 20, 2016, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding an incident involving an Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officer using a conducted energy weapon (CEW) during an arrest, resulting in serious injury.
At about 6:45 a.m. on that date, EPS officers went to the area around Jasper Avenue and 90 Street, in response to a complaint about a man who was believed to be armed with a knife and machete. When EPS officers arrived, they located the man running away, holding a knife in one hand. The officers pursued the man on foot and a short time later, confronted him. Officers told him to stop and drop the knife. He dropped the knife, but did not follow any other commands. He advanced on an officer while still possibly armed. Another officer, standing behind the man, deployed a CEW, (commonly known as a Taser) as the man closed the gap between himself and the first officer. The Taser successfully stopped the man, who fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement. Police arrested the man and took him into custody. Emergency Medical Services responded, and following an assessment, took the man to hospital. Further examination revealed the man had sustained a head injury. It was not considered life-threatening.
ASIRT’s investigation determined that the officers dealing with the man were lawfully able to arrest him for several charges. The Criminal Code permits an officer to use as much force as is reasonably necessary in the lawful execution of his or her duties. The Criminal Code also allows any person to use reasonable force in defending themselves or another. In this case, the man tried several times to evade police, and upon being approached, he moved toward an officer aggressively, with closed fists. The man repeatedly failed to heed commands. The man later acknowledged being under the influence of an unknown intoxicant and indicated he had no memory of the incident.
ASIRT executive director Susan D. Hughson, QC, reviewed the completed investigation and determined that the force used by the officers was reasonable in the circumstances, and was no more than necessary to gain compliance from the man and prevent an assault on the officer. Accordingly, no criminal charges will stem from police conduct during this incident.
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.