On Feb. 18, 2016, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding a fatal motor vehicle collision that followed a police pursuit on Tsuut’ina Nation land.
At approximately 6:30 a.m. that day, a black pickup truck, later determined to be stolen, drove past a group of Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service officers standing on a road assisting someone. The truck came within inches of one of the officers, prompting police to try to locate the vehicle and attempt a traffic stop.
A Tsuut’ina officer driving a fully-marked police vehicle spotted the truck and attempted to pull it over, with lights and sirens activated. The driver of the truck failed to stop, fled at high speed, and drove into Calgary on 37th Street SW – travelling south in the northbound lanes. Approximately 800 metres south of 130th Avenue, on the bridge over Fish Creek, the truck collided head-on with a Toyota Corolla driven by a 52-year-old man headed north. The 33-year-old man driving the truck and two passengers fled on foot. The driver of the Corolla was fatally injured in the collision.
ASIRT’s investigation focused on whether the actions of the Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service officer caused or contributed to the fatal collision. The investigation determined that the officer had the lawful authority both to attempt to stop the truck, and to pursue it after the driver failed to stop. When it became apparent the driver would not stop, the officer took several steps to try to de-escalate the situation, including deactivating the police vehicle’s emergency equipment and disengaging. Prior to the collision, and in response to the truck’s escalating driving pattern, the officer discontinued the pursuit and came to a complete stop.
After reviewing the completed investigation, ASIRT executive director Susan D. Hughson, QC, determined that the officer’s conduct did not cause or contribute to the death of the motorist, and that no criminal charges would result from the officer’s involvement. Responsibility for the subsequent collision – and the tragic death that resulted – rests with the driver of the truck. The Calgary Police Service investigated the actions of the occupants of the truck, which fall outside of ASIRT’s mandate.
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.