Gateway Gazette

Investigation Determines RCMP Officer’s Actions Lawful and Justified

On June 8, 2016, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed by the Director of Law Enforcement to investigate the circumstances surrounding an incident near Spirit River that resulted in an officer discharging his police service firearm toward a moving vehicle. No one was injured as a result of the discharge of the firearm.

On the same date at approximately 3 p.m., a Spirit River RCMP officer learned of a complaint of a possible impaired driver operating a black dually pickup. The pickup was last seen travelling northbound on Highway 2 south of the Woking, Alberta turn-off, swerving all over the road and speeding.

A uniformed officer, accompanied by his police service dog (PSD), responded to the call. He observed dually tracks in the mud, all over the road southbound on RR 61. The officer came upon the pickup as it pulled over on the west side of the road. Without warning, the driver of the pickup drove east across an intersection, directly in front of the police vehicle, through the east ditch and directly back onto the road, colliding with the driver’s side front bumper of the police vehicle. The pickup scraped along the front bumper of the police vehicle, then turned north.

The officer exited his vehicle, ran to the back, and while standing at the rear observed the pickup moving towards him. The officer fired one round through the passenger’s window at the driver. The pickup turned away and fled northbound. Shortly after, the officer got back into his vehicle and followed the pickup while reporting the discharge of his weapon over the radio. The officer pursued the pickup for a short distance until his police vehicle became inoperable due to collision damage. The truck was later located unoccupied in a nearby area and was in burned-out condition.

ASIRT Executive Director, Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., received the completed ASIRT investigation and after a careful review of the evidence has confirmed that the officer involved was lawfully placed and in the lawful execution of his duties. The officer was clearly identifiable as a police officer. His police vehicle, although unmarked, had the emergency equipment, including flashing lights, activated at the time of the incident. The roadway evidence supported the officer’s description of the incident that the truck came back toward the rear of the police vehicle where the officer was standing. The driver’s conduct was objectively dangerous and presented a very real risk of grievous bodily harm or death to the officer and as such, the use of lethal force was justified in the circumstances. There will be no charges against the officer.

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.

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