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Alberta

ASIRT releases findings on shooting death of armed murder suspect

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From Alberta Serious Incident Response Team: RCMP acted reasonably in shooting fatality during arrest

On Jan. 7, 2017, ASIRT was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 27-year-old man during an attempted arrest by the RCMP that same day. 

During a planned entry into a Stoney Nakoda First Nation residence to locate the man and two others suspected of involvement in a recent homicide, a confrontation occurred that resulted in the man being shot by an RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) officer.

ASIRT interviewed police and civilian witnesses, including the individuals present in the home that day and the involved officers. As well, the crime scene was examined, and photographs, radio communications and all available video were seized. ASIRT’s investigation is complete.

Having reviewed the investigation, executive director Susan Hughson, QC, concluded there were no reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe a police officer committed a criminal offence.

On Jan. 7, 2017, RCMP executed several arrest warrants at residences on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation in search of three men, wanted for a murder that had occurred six days earlier. At the time, RCMP had information that the 27-year-old man had also been in possession of a firearm, which violated a court-ordered prohibition in effect until 2025. As such, the execution of the warrants was deemed to be high risk.

At approximately 4 p.m., ERT simultaneously sent teams to execute the warrants at two neighbouring homes, one being the home of the family of the 27-year-old man and his brother, also wanted in relation to the same homicide. The father of the men met the officers at the doorway to the residence. Officers located the brother inside on the first floor and arrested him without incident. As the officers proceeded further into the home, several other people were located and contained on the main level while others emerged from the basement. When asked whether anyone was still in the basement, the officers were told no.

A number of officers went down to clear the basement, announcing that they were police and that they had a warrant. As they moved along an interior wall towards a doorway in the basement, a man, later confirmed to have been the 27-year-old man, yelled at the officers to get out and leave him alone. A single shot was then fired from the opposite side of the wall, penetrating through drywall and narrowly missing the officers. The officers called out “shots fired”, returned to the main floor and, after throwing a tear gas canister into the basement, evacuated the residence.

At this point, officers were aware that they were dealing with an armed man and took up positions to contain the residence after everyone had been moved to safety. At this point, the RCMP would have had the benefit of time and resources.

One officer went towards the treeline on the west side of the residence to establish a rear sniper point. He positioned himself behind an old washing machine approximately 12 metres away from the house. While doing so, a gunshot was heard, believed to have come from the southwest corner of the basement near the basement window closest to the officer, and the officer reported hearing the sound of breaking glass.

Almost immediately, a woman climbed out of the window. As the officer yelled commands for her to walk towards him, the 27-year-old man emerged from the same basement window with a shotgun in his hands, carried at waist level and pointing in the direction of the officer and the young woman. The officer fired a single shot from his rifle, striking the 27-year-old man in the torso, causing him to collapse to the ground. Other ERT members moved in to secure the man and the shotgun, and to render emergency aid.

With the tear gas coming out of the basement window, RCMP moved the man and placed him on a jacket on the snow-covered ground to prevent hypothermia. The RCMP loaded the man into an RCMP vehicle and transported him to an ambulance waiting a short distance away, as the house and scene had not yet been cleared and confirmed safe by ERT officers. These officers re-entered the residence and found it empty.

The man was transported to a Calgary hospital where he was declared deceased. He sustained a single gunshot wound to the abdomen that injured internal organs and his spinal cord. More significantly, it cut through the main abdominal artery. This resulted in substantial hemorrhage and death. Toxicology was positive for methamphetamine.

The man’s gun, a 12-gauge tactical shotgun, was recovered loaded with three unfired shells. The pump action was in the forward firing position.

Section 25 of the Criminal Code states that a police officer is authorized to use as much force as is reasonably necessary in the execution of his or her duties. When necessary, an officer is entitled to resort to lethal force where there are, subjectively and objectively, grounds to believe that the person presents a risk of imminent bodily harm or death to the officer or another person. Lastly, an officer may use lethal force to prevent flight in limited circumstances.

The evidence is unequivocal that the 27-year-old man called out and fired upon the officers as they descended the stairs to clear the basement. The only other person in the basement was the unarmed woman who had exited the residence just ahead of the man. The woman confirmed that, although she did not see the events leading up to the officer-involved shooting, she immediately turned after the gunshot and saw officers approach the man and kick the shotgun away from the man as he laid on the ground.

Both objectively and subjectively, the man presented a risk of imminent grievous bodily harm or death to the officer, and potentially to the woman who would have been in the line of fire. The officer was lawfully placed and acting in the lawful execution of his duty. In the circumstances, the force used was both reasonable and authorized under the Criminal Code. There being no grounds to believe that an offence was committed by a police officer, no charges will be laid.

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.

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Alberta

Shares in nursing home companies plunge in the wake of Ontario care scandal

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CALGARY — Shares in a company at the centre of a nursing home scandal in Ontario are falling to new depths on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Shares in Sienna Senior Living Inc. plunged by as much as 8.3 per cent on Thursday to $9.68, a near 10-year low that’s almost 50 per cent less than their $19.64 close on Feb. 18.

The company is the operator of the Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Ont., named in a Canadian Armed Forces report this week for inadequate care and feeding of residents due to insufficient staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is blamed for 52 deaths there.

Sienna also operates the Camilla Care Centre in Mississauga, Ont., where at least 61 residents have died after contracting the coronavirus. The province said Wednesday it would take over operations of both Camilla and Altamont, along with three other nursing homes.

Shares in two other Canadian nursing home operators also fell Thursday, although neither has residences mentioned in the military report.

Extendicare Inc. slipped 3.3 per cent for a total drop of 35 per cent so far this year and Chartwell Retirement Residences fell 4.7 per cent for a year-to-date slide of 41.6 per cent.

In a report last week following Sienna’s first-quarter financial results, analyst Yashwant Sankpal of Laurentian Bank Securities said the pandemic’s impact on seniors’ care facilities has created plenty of investor anxiety over the sector’s future profitability.

But the crisis could also lead to more public investment in the sector to allow needed upgrades to the facilities that need it most, he pointed out.

“We believe that given the demographic trends, we as a society would have to come to terms with this situation and look for better solutions than just putting the whole blame on the operators,” the analyst said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SIA, TSX:EXE, TSX:CSH.UN)

 

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

How to put ‘found money’ generated from pandemic savings to good use

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CALGARY — An elevator salesman in Calgary says two months of working from his house in the northwest part of the city have convinced him there’s no place like home to conduct business.

Tracey Webb says he plans to make his home base his work base permanently after seeing major savings on daily expenses without hurting his performance as a local sales representative for an international elevator company.

“There’s really no change in my productivity, it might even be better, and my pay’s the same,” he said in an interview, adding he’s sharing the two-storey house with his wife Corinne and daughter Sarah, both working full-time from home as school teachers.

“My wife has a station set up in the basement, my daughter is in her room (on the second floor) and I’m in an office on the main floor, so we’re all on different levels.”

The financial benefits of working from home are adding up for the family at a time when most of the city’s businesses are shut down.

In more normal times, Webb said he would be attending hockey and football games, going out for lunch with coworkers or clients, taking part in Friday pub nights and going to movies with his wife, all adding to his expenses even if some of those costs are covered by his employer.

The family is saving “dramatic money” on fuel for their cars, he said, but shopping bills are about the same — although delivered through Amazon more often now than before. Other than takeout food bills, entertainment expenses are almost nil.

Some of the savings are bittersweet, like the $5,000 he estimates it would have cost for a cancelled vacation to San Francisco and San Diego.

The same goes for the substantial savings realized when 24-year-old Sarah’s wedding celebration at a downtown restaurant this summer had to be scaled back to a small ceremony with a deferred reception.

Financial advisers say it’s important that people review and adjust their financial plans when faced with unexpected savings or costs.

“When we come into found money — and that’s what people have right now if they’re both still working and not paying as much expenses — it’s just super important we make that money work for us for the long-term,” said Mark Kalinowski, financial educator for the Credit Counselling Society.

About half of the people he deals with are still earning their usual income while working from home, he said, while the rest are less fortunate, struggling to make ends meet after being laid off or losing part of their income because of the economic downturn.

Less driving means savings on fuel and possibly auto insurance, said Kalinowski. Not commuting means no need for transit passes, with savings of $100 or more per month.

Hundreds of dollars are being saved by not going out for lunch or coffee or snacks and staying home instead of going to the theatre or other events. Parents are saving hundreds of dollars through refunds on school bus fees and not paying for summer camps or sports for the children.

The suddenness of the lockdowns to try to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus serve as a reminder of the importance of having an emergency savings account, he said.

People should look to build such a fund, even if just $1,000 or $2,000, as a first priority for their savings.

The next priority should be making sure there’s money to pay any income taxes owing by the extended Canada Revenue Agency deadline of Sept. 1 to avoid penalties.

Next, pay down debt, starting with the highest interest rate account, usually the credit card. When it’s paid off, put it away for a while, he said.

If there’s still money, top up your tax-free savings account or registered retirement savings plan, he advises.

“During normal times, people are always so busy, right? It takes a lot of discipline to get on top of your finances and budget,” said Jeet Dhillon, vice-president and senior portfolio manager with TD Wealth.

“I always say, if you’re not going to look at it now when you have so much time, when will you?”

When calculating your work-from-home savings, it’s important to separate permanent savings, like foregone haircuts, and deferred savings, like putting off buying a new car, she said.

No one is going to spend money to catch up on their missed barber appointments, but they will probably eventually need to buy that car and should budget for it.

Tracey Webb’s satisfaction in his day-to-day savings over the past two months have been offset by his dismay over the performance of his retirement investment portfolio as the pandemic weighs heavily on markets around the globe.

His investment losses have helped him resist the urge to run out and spend the money he’s saved by working from home.

Still, he admits there’s one area where expenses have unexpectedly been on the rise.

“Because you’re home all the time, you’re looking at things. So I’ve been fixing things and that costs me a little bit of money,” he said.

“We just got new patio furniture.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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