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Crime

ASIRT Investigation reveals a series of life-threatening incidents police officers overcame to arrest suspects

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From the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT)

RCMP officers acted reasonably in shootings

On Oct. 13, 2017, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding two officer-involved shootings that occurred the same day during a continuing event.

The first officer-involved shooting resulted in a minor gunshot wound to a 20-year-old woman. The second officer-involved shooting resulted in serious injuries to a 20-year-old man. Evidence obtained during the investigation included statements from civilian witnesses, EMS personnel, all involved officers and the occupants of the stolen vehicles, as well as radio communications and multiple available video recordings of portions of the events.

On Oct. 13, 2017 at 9:14 a.m., a man called RCMP to report that he had just been involved in a dispute with another man driving a light-coloured Chevrolet truck and when he attempted to confront the driver, the man threatened him with a large knife. There was a female passenger in the truck. When police ran the licence plate provided and contacted the registered owner, it was determined that the truck had been stolen from the Didsbury area earlier that morning.

At 1:30 p.m., the first man and woman picked up a second man in Innisfail who had just been released on bail, having been arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle the day before. They did so in the stolen vehicle seen earlier in the day in Sundre.

At approximately 3:15 p.m., the son of the stolen truck’s owner called RCMP to report that he had spotted the stolen truck in Sundre and was following it. In response, the driver of the stolen truck rammed the son’s car and attempted to run him over when he exited his vehicle. The man threw himself out of the way, but he was struck and sustained minor injury to his leg. The female passenger waved a large knife and threatened to kill the son.

A short time later, officers came across the truck, and unsuccessfully tried to conduct a traffic stop. As officers pulled alongside, the driver could be seen wearing sunglasses and a bandana covering his nose and mouth. The officers terminated the pursuit as both trucks headed west of Sundre but shortly thereafter, they saw the stolen truck driving on a rural road. The driver taunted police as he passed them. Due to concerns for public safety, police did not initiate a pursuit.

The same officers encountered the stolen truck being driven in Caroline but, again, no pursuit was initiated. Shortly thereafter, the officers followed as the truck was driven into a field. The driver turned around and drove back in the direction of the officers who exited their vehicle and drew their service pistols. The truck drove a wide arc around them, so neither officer fired.

At approximately 3:45 p.m., other officers saw the stolen truck travel north on Hwy 22, just west of Caroline, and followed. Police unsuccessfully tried to set up spike belts at two locations but the stolen vehicle avoided them, in one case driving directly at an officer, who had to take evasive action to avoid being struck.

A pursuit was declared shortly after. While followed by two separate police vehicles with emergency lights activated, speeds reached 170-180 km/hr. As the pursuit headed eastbound on TWP Road 400, the woman in the back seat of the stolen truck threw a child’s car seat and other items onto the roadway, creating hazards and attempting to deter the police from continuing their pursuit. The first man was driving and the second man was in the front passenger seat.

As the stolen truck was pursued eastbound onto TWP Road 394, it approached a driveway where an officer had parked his police vehicle and extended a spike belt across both lanes, holding the line in the north ditch. The first man drove the stolen truck left of centre and turned into the north ditch, driving towards the officer. He suddenly pulled back onto the road and the officer ran back beside his police vehicle and drew his pistol. The stolen truck entered the south ditch, drove over the driveway approach past the officer and police vehicle, avoiding the spike belt and returned back to the road, moving eastbound.

Instead of continuing eastbound, the truck swung around to face back towards the officer, his police vehicle and two other officers who had arrived and placed their police vehicles to partially block off any westbound escape. The truck headed directly towards the officer who had earlier placed the spike belt as he stood by his police vehicle. The officer believed that the driver was purposely trying to “run” him over as there was no reason to proceed westbound and engage with police when the eastbound road was unobstructed. At approximately 4:27 p.m., as the truck drove towards the officer, fishtailing and colliding with the police vehicle and coming within feet of the officer, the officer and one other fired their service pistols. A bullet grazed the top of the back of the woman’s head causing a relatively minor laceration.

The truck drove over the spike belt, which destroyed the passenger side tires, leading the truck to flee on its rims at approximately 60-70 km/hr. As an officer tried to set up another spike belt, the truck drove at the officer, who had to retreat to the ditch. At 4:31 p.m., as the truck approached the Hwy 20 intersection, an officer was authorized to force the truck off the road. The officer rammed the side of the truck, forcing it into the north ditch with the police vehicle on one side and a fence on the other. The two men climbed through the passenger window and fled to a nearby field, leaving the injured woman in the back seat.

When the two men came upon a farmhouse, they observed a woman run inside. They approached and kicked in the door to the home where two women were present with children. When they found out the women had no keys to the vehicles on the property, the men took their cellphones so they could not call for assistance, and fled to a second rural residence. They broke into vehicles, obtained a garage door opener to gain access to the residence and obtained keys to a black Ford F250 truck that they then attempted to flee in. The second man was now driving with the first man in the front passenger seat. As they were driving out, an officer driving towards them twice attempted to pin them in on a fence but the stolen truck suddenly reversed and rammed the police truck with enough force to set off the airbags, disabling the police vehicle.

The newly stolen truck was driven through the field and down the 500-metre driveway to access Hwy 20, approaching a point where two officers were placing a spike belt. The truck drove off the roadway into the ditch where one armed officer was. A second armed officer moved forward towards the truck on the south grass shoulder of the driveway. The vehicle suddenly accelerated, re-entered the roadway, swerved aggressively to avoid the spike belt and drove directly towards the second officer. Had he not taken evasive actions, it is beyond dispute that the officer would have been struck by the middle of the front grill of the stolen truck. Available video confirmed that the stolen truck came within what appears to be a matter of 12 to 18 inches of the officer, causing both officers to discharge their service pistols.

Unknown to the officers, the 20-year-old driver sustained two gunshot wounds that left him unable to feel or move his legs. The truck briefly came to a stop in the south ditch, just short of Hwy 20. When the passenger looked through the broken rear window and appeared to reach for something, officers shouted commands to stop. The passenger reached his leg over the center console and “floored” the accelerator, causing the officers to resuming firing.

The truck drove out of the east ditch, crossed Hwy 20 and went into the west ditch where it became immobilized in a grove of trees. Police provided medical care to the injured driver until Emergency Medical Services arrived. Ultimately, the man was airlifted to hospital by STARS air ambulance.

Of the two shots sustained, one shattered the man’s left forearm and the second shot entered his left shoulder shattering bone before becoming lodged in his spine resulting in permanent paralysis.

Having reviewed the comprehensive investigation, Susan Hughson, QC, Executive Director for ASIRT, has determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the officers involved in these events committed any criminal offence(s). As such, no officer will be charged.

Under the Criminal Code, a police officer is authorized to use as much force as is reasonably necessary to perform his or her lawful duties. An officer may only respond with lethal force in circumstances where he or she reasonably believes that there is an imminent risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the officer or any other person. An officer may also use lethal force to prevent flight in limited circumstances.

At the time of this incident, the involved officers were all acting in the lawful execution of their duties. There were more than reasonable grounds to believe that some or all of the occupants of both the first and second stolen trucks had committed indictable criminal offences.

In the entire course of these events, the conduct of the three individuals could objectively demonstrate the danger and significant risk to public. Multiple videos combined with the evidence of both civilian and police witnesses demonstrated that the three occupants of both stolen trucks were reckless, motivated to do whatever was necessary to evade apprehension and, in those circumstances, extremely dangerous. Both men reported that it had not been their intention to hit anyone. However, their conduct, at a minimum, would have created a reasonable apprehension that this was their intent. One person had been threatened and struck, another had been threatened with death, and the stolen vehicles had been driven towards officers in a manner that could easily have been interpreted as an intention to run them down.

Based on the actions of these three individuals, it is only good fortune that no civilian nor police officer was seriously injured or killed. At the time of the first officer-involved shooting, the circumstances created an objectively reasonable belief that there was an imminent risk of grievous bodily harm or death and, as such, officers were entitled to use lethal force. At the time of the second officer-involved shooting, once again, the circumstances created an objectively reasonable belief that there was an imminent risk of grievous bodily harm or death and both officers were entitled to use lethal force to address that threat.

Although the injury is believed to have occurred by the time of the attempted flight with the assistance of the passenger, based on all the evidence, it was subjectively and objectively reasonable to resort to lethal force to prevent further flight. The force used was necessary for the purpose of protecting the officer or any other person from imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm. Both men had repeatedly demonstrated a willingness, over a very limited period of time, to risk causing death or grievous bodily harm to both civilians and officers to further their flight and evade apprehension, and had engaged in a protracted crime spree doing so. The risk was not hypothetical. The threat was relatively immediate. In their multiple encounters that day, they had threatened and/or endangered life. If anything, their conduct had been escalating. The rapid forward movement of the vehicle was reasonably inferred to be an attempt at continued flight and the vehicle had a clear path forward. The only means at their disposal in that moment was the use of lethal force. Given the demonstrated conduct of both men, they needed to be stopped before they seriously injured or killed someone. The fact that they had not done so to that point was the result of good luck, nothing more. It was reasonable to act in 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. This mandate includes incidents involving discharge of a firearm that would likely have resulted in serious injury or death had the person been struck.

Central Alberta

Ponoka RCMP lay charges following aggravated assault

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August 21, 2019

Ponoka RCMP lay charges following aggravated assault

 

Ponoka, Alta. – The RCMP arrested and laid charges against one male following an aggravated assault that occurred on August 13, 2019.

At 7:47 p.m., Ponoka RCMP responded to a 911 call that an assault had just occurred downtown in Ponoka.  RCMP members located the victim at a residence and launched an investigation.  The victim was suffering serious, but not life-threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

Witness statements were taken and a search warrant conducted at a residence revealed the suspect weapon and other evidence of the offence.

22-year-old Taylor Hart of Ponoka is charged with four criminal offences:

–      Aggravated assault

–      Assault with a weapon

–      Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose

–      Fail to comply with a Recognizance

Hart was subject to a judicial interim release hearing.  He was remanded for a first court appearance on August 16, and remains remanded.  His next court date is August 23, 2019

The victim was a 29-year-old male from Ponoka.  The two subjects were known to each other and preliminary investigation indicates that this was not a random attack.

Click for more stories about crime in the region.

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Alberta

The old paving scam is back – don’t fall for it

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on

August 19, 2019

 

Alberta RCMP warns property owners of paving contractor scams

Edmonton—This summer, the Alberta RCMP has received reports of several incidents involving paving scams in Western Alberta. Travelling companies, posing as legitimate contractors, offer paving or sometimes roof sealing services typically to senior citizens in rural communities. These individuals have been known to provide few details of their identity and utilize non-descript vehicles rarely bearing commercial logos.

The Alberta RCMP urges property owners to beware of out-of-town companies offering such services. The contractors claim to have leftover asphalt from previous jobs and promise to provide quality services. However, the product used is believed to be cold, recycled asphalt or a gravel and oil mixture with no lasting properties. This results in the asphalt falling apart once it is driven on. By that time, these fraudsters are long gone, disappearing with their payment before the customer realizes they have been scammed.

We would like to remind residents to exercise caution when retaining contractor services and if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Residents should be weary of any contractors who:

  • Come to your door saying they are working in the area offering a deal for leftover asphalt
  • Drive vehicles bearing no business names or logos
  • Pressure you into making a quick decision or refuse to take “no” for an answer
  • Ask for a down payment to buy materials
  • Refuse to give you a written quote with their business name, physical address and outlining the services they will provide prior to completing the work

Here a few tips to avoid falling prey to scammers:

  • Before agreeing to contract a person who comes to your door, get names of their previous customers and verify that they were satisfied with the work
  • Do some research on the company with either the Better Business Bureau in Alberta, with the Consumer Investigations Unit, with your local Rural Crime Watch or on social media site
  • Make sure to obtain a written quote from the contractor that includes the full business name, full address, phone number, GST number and provincial and municipal license numbers, if applicable
  • Ensure the quote you receive gives details such as the quantity and specifies the quality of materials being offered
  • Obtain quotes from local supplier as a form of comparison

The Alberta RCMP is working with the Alberta Consumer Investigation Unit (CIU) to counter this trend. If you or anyone you know have any information on these companies, please contact the Consumer Investigations Unit – North (north of Ponoka) at 587-985-4735 or the Consumer Investigations Unit – South (south of Ponoka) at 403-803-8229.

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august, 2019

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