On December 25, 2014, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed by the Director of Law Enforcement to investigate the circumstances surrounding a RCMP officer-involved shooting in Vegreville, Alberta.
At approximately 9 a.m. that day, RCMP received a 911 call from an unidentified male who said a man with a gun, dressed in a grey shirt and a blue hat, was robbing someone at the Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank automated teller machine. RCMP officers were immediately dispatched.
An RCMP officer arrived at the TD Bank and observed a man matching the description, carrying a cloth bag walking away from the TD Bank. When the officer called out, the man turned and placed his right hand inside the front of his jacket. Believing that the man might be reaching for a weapon, the officer immediately drew his service pistol, told the man he was under arrest and requested that he show his hands. The man, refusing to identify himself and follow direction, began swearing at the officer. The officer continually attempted to engage in conversation but was unsuccessful. The officer noticed in the outline of the bag, a cylindrical item that he believed might be the barrel of a gun.
Another RCMP officer arrived on scene and joined the first officer in attempting to reason with the man. They told him they were concerned he had a weapon and they might have to shoot him.
The situation started to deteriorate. With one hand the man pointed the cylindrical object in the bag towards the officers moving it back and forth between them. The man was directed to drop it but refused. He then raised it towards the chest of the second officer. At the same time, the man lifted his left hand and pointed what appeared to be a small black handgun directly at the first officer. He was directed to “put it down” but when he failed to follow direction, one of the officers fired a single shot hitting the man in the chest area causing him to fall to the ground. Emergency Medical Services was immediately called and the 22-year-old man was taken to hospital and treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Upon closer examination of the black handgun, it was determined to be a replica firearm. The other item that was pointed at the officers was a plastic-wrapped rolled up poster that appeared aluminum grey in colour. ASIRT’s investigation determined the original 911 call that brought the officers to the scene and led to the confrontation, had been made from the man’s own cell phone.
ASIRT Executive Director, Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., received the completed investigation and upon reviewing it in its entirety, determined that the officers were acting lawfully and the use of force was reasonable and justified in all the circumstances.
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.