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ASIRT says police shooting was reasonable action


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Alberta Serious Incident Response Team ASIRT

From the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team:

Shooting reasonable during CPS critical incident

On Sept. 29, 2017, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a 22-year-old man by members of the Calgary Police Service (CPS) that day. During the arrest, one CPS member fired his service pistol, resulting in the man sustaining an injury.

ASIRT interviewed all relevant police and civilian witnesses, including the 22-year-old man, about the events. Radio communication audio recordings, 911 open call recording, and CCTV video, including video from inside the convenience store where the incident occurred, were secured. The involved officer declined to provide a statement, as is his constitutional right.

Having reviewed the investigation, executive director Susan Hughson, QC, has come to the conclusion that force used during this incident was both reasonable and justified.

At approximately 8:08 p.m. that day, CPS received a 911 call reporting that a man, armed with a knife, was inside the 7-Eleven store located 4604 37 Street SW. The caller reported that the man, who wasn’t wearing a shirt, entered the store holding a can of beer and a knife, and had approached her asking for a lighter. As she spoke with the 911 dispatcher, the man grabbed her cellphone, entered the mailroom storage area and refused to leave.

A CPS officer, who came into the 7-Eleven store to buy something, became aware of the situation and talked to the man through the closed door of the storage room. At the same time, CPS dispatched officers in response to the call and customers were evacuated from the store. The cellphone taken from the 911 caller remained an open line, capturing audio of the incident and the conversation between the man and police. Once additional CPS officers were on-scene, police used the cellphone to continue to speak with the man.

While inside the storage area, the man set fire to the room and refused to come out. The man requested water, and officers persuaded him to exit the room to take a bottle of water. The man left the burning room briefly, still holding a knife. Officers shouted commands to drop the knife and deployed a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW), commonly referred to as a Taser. It had no impact and the man quickly returned to the storage room. As the fire progressed, it disabled the store’s electrical power and the building switched to its emergency lighting system.

The man again left the storage room, still armed with the knife, and officers deployed a CEW two additional times, but the man was able to return to the room. At this point, it is likely that the growing fire made it difficult for the man to stay inside the room, as he emerged again shortly after. This time, he came out holding the knife and ran toward the officers. An officer fired two rounds from his service pistol, striking the man in the shoulder. The man fell to the ground and began stabbing himself in the neck with the knife. When he ignored verbal commands from officers to drop the knife, officers deployed a CEW again to stop the man from harming himself. While it successfully stopped the man from continuing to stab himself in the neck, it did not cause him to drop the knife. A police service dog was deployed to drag the man into an open area, where he was successfully disarmed. At this point, the smoke in the building was described as being almost intolerable.

Officers carried the man out of the burning building to a waiting ambulance, which provided emergency care and transported him to hospital. The man was treated for his injuries, including burns to his back, chest, and hands, and a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was subsequently booked into custody at the Calgary Remand Centre. On Dec. 23, 2017, shortly after his release, the 22-year-old man died in circumstances unrelated to his contact with police on Sept. 29, 2017 or the physical injuries he sustained.

Initially, police responded to an armed man with a knife who had stolen a phone from an employee and effectively barricaded himself in a storage room at a public convenience store. His behaviour was erratic, unpredictable and concerning. While he appeared intent on self-harm, he still had the ability to hurt someone else. The fact that he was high and in the midst of a mental health crisis did not make him less dangerous and, arguably, would make him more dangerous as he was not making rational decisions or choices. Initially, all the CPS officers tried to do, was to “talk out” the situation to encourage his surrender. Unfortunately, when the man started a fire, it significantly increased the urgency of the situation for all involved, and limited the options available to police. As well, the limited visibility and the increasingly difficult environment inside the store made the situation even more problematic. Officers tried twice to apprehend him using intermediate force options, but both attempts were unsuccessful. This is the reality of some situations. Plans fail and officers regroup and look for alternate opportunities or approaches. Up until the final time the man emerged from the storage room, there was no intention to resort to lethal force and the plan was still to try and extricate him from the situation as safely as possible, with no loss of life.

Under Sec. 25 of the Criminal Code, police officers are entitled to use as much force as is reasonably necessary to carry out their lawful duties. Furthermore, under Sec. 34 of the Criminal Code, any person, including a police officer, is entitled to the use of reasonable force in defence of themselves or another. An assessment of the reasonableness of force used requires consideration of the nature of the threat presented, the urgency of the situation, and the availability of other alternatives. In this case, the action of running directly towards a police officer, in close proximity, while armed with a knife created a serious and immediate threat. In the circumstances, it would be reasonable for the officer to perceive a threat capable of causing death or grievous bodily harm to himself, other officers or any other person. Accordingly, it is reasonable that he resorted to the use of lethal force.

This incident began and escalated due to the effects of drugs and their interaction with pre-existing mental health issues. In light of these factors, it is extremely unfortunate that the man sustained an injury during his arrest, but the escalation of the situation and the interpretation of his actions following his final exit from the room created a reasonable apprehension that he presented a risk of grievous bodily harm or death to an officer. Considering that assessment, the force used to address that danger was reasonable given all of the circumstances.

As such, there are no reasonable grounds, nor even reasonable suspicion, to believe that the officer committed any Criminal Code offence. All officers were lawfully placed and acting in the lawful execution of their duties. They all attempted to exercise restraint until the armed man, desperately suicidal, forced their hand. The force employed was reasonable in the circumstances. As such, no charges are appropriate.

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.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Protecting the right to vote for Canadian citizens: Minister McIver

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Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued the following statement in response to Calgary City Council’s vote to extend the right to vote to permanent residents:

“Yesterday, Calgary city council passed a motion advocating for permanent residents to be extended the right to vote in civic elections. Alberta’s government has been clear since the beginning: only Canadian citizens are able to vote in civic elections. That will not be changing.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the right of every Canadian citizen to vote and to run as a candidate. This right extends to voters in municipal, provincial and federal elections.

“Protecting our democracy is of the utmost importance. Our provincial election legislation, like the Local Authorities Elections Act, has also been clear since its inception that voting is a right of Canadian citizens.

“Alberta’s government is also ensuring that voting is accessible for more Albertans. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act proposes to enable special ballot access for any voter who requests it, without having to provide any specific reason such as physical disability, absence from the municipality or working for the municipal election. The ministries of Seniors, Community and Social Services and Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction are also making it easier for individuals to obtain the identification Albertans need for a variety of services, including the ability to cast a ballot.

“Our government will continue to protect the integrity of our elections and make sure voting is accessible for all Albertans who are Canadian citizens.”

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Three Calgary massage parlours linked to human trafficking investigation

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News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

ALERT’s Human Trafficking unit has searched and closed three Calgary massage parlours. A year-long investigation has linked the businesses and its owner to suspected human trafficking.

ALERT arrested Hai (Anna) Yan Ye on April 16, 2024 and charged the 48-year-old with advertising sexual services, drug offences and firearms offences. The investigation remains ongoing and further charges are being contemplated.

Ye was linked to three commercial properties and two homes that were allegedly being used for illegal sexual activities and services. The massage parlours were closed following search warrant executions carried out by ALERT, the Calgary Police Service, and the RCMP:

  • Seagull Massage at 1034 8 Avenue SW;
  • 128 Massage at 1935 37 Street SW; and
  • The One Massage Centre at 1919 31 Street SE.
  • 1100-block of Hidden Valley Drive; and
  • 3100-block of 12 Avenue SW.

As result of the search warrants, ALERT also seized:

  • $15,000 in suspected proceeds of crime;
  • Shotgun with ammunition; and
  • Various amounts of drugs.

“We believe that these were immigrants being exploited into the sex trade. This has been a common trend that takes advantage of their unfamiliarity and vulnerability,” said Staff Sergeant Gord MacDonald, ALERT Human Trafficking.

Four suspected victims were identified and provided resources by ALERT’s Safety Network Coordinators.

ALERT’s investigation dates back to February 2023 when a tip was received about suspicious activity taking place at the since-closed Moonlight Massage. That location was closed during the investigation, in December 2023, when the landlord identified illegal suites on the premises.

The investigation involved the close cooperation with City of Calgary Emergency Management and Community Safety, Alberta’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) team, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the RCMP.

Ye was released from custody on a number of court-imposed conditions.

Anyone with information about this investigation, or any case involving suspected human trafficking offences, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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