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Alberta

2 RCMP officers charged after ASIRT investigation into 2018 fatal shooting at Whitecourt

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Alberta Serious Incident Response Team ASIRT

This release is distributed by the Government of Alberta on behalf of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

RCMP officers charged following ASIRT investigation

On July 3, 2018, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding an RCMP officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a 31-year-old man.

On July 2, 2018, a 31-year-old man was in a residence in Valhalla Centre when unidentified perpetrators attacked the residence and fired upon the occupants. While one occupant was injured during the incident, the 31-year-old man was able to flee the area in a very distinctive vehicle. As RCMP officers began to investigate the incident, they sought to locate and interview the man as a witness to the events and, indeed, as the possible intended victim.

On July 3, 2018, an off-duty RCMP officer observed what he believed to be the vehicle in question parked at the Chickadee Creek rest stop west of Whitecourt, and provided this information to nearby RCMP members.

Shortly after 12:15 p.m., officers attended the location and found the vehicle parked with what appeared to be one occupant asleep in the reclined driver’s seat. The officers approached the vehicle and a confrontation occurred, during which the vehicle was put into motion. One officer discharged a service pistol at the vehicle while a second officer discharged a carbine rifle. The vehicle left the rest stop, crossed the highway and entered a ditch a short distance away.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) was called in to clear the scene and located the 31-year-old-man deceased in the driver’s seat, having sustained several gunshot wounds.

ASIRT conducted a thorough and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. Upon reviewing the evidence, ASIRT executive director Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., determined that the evidence was capable of providing reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence(s) had been committed and, accordingly, on Aug. 22, 2019, the completed investigation was forwarded to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) for an opinion on whether the case met their standard for prosecution. On May 29, 2020, ASIRT received the completed final opinion. Having carefully reviewed the completed investigation and the provided position of the Crown, Ms. Hughson concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that criminal offences had been committed and that the two RCMP officers who discharged their firearms should be charged.

On June 5, Cpl. Randy Stenger and Const. Jessica Brown, both RCMP officers with the Whitecourt RCMP detachment, were arrested and each charged with one count of criminal negligence causing death in relation to the death of the 31-year-old man, Clayton Crawford, contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code.

Both officers were released on an undertaking with conditions, including a prohibition from the possession of firearms, to appear in Whitecourt Provincial Court on July 14.

As these matters are now before the courts, ASIRT will not provide any further information in relation to these incidents.

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.

ASIRT

 

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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Alberta

Plane struck power line before crash near Edmonton, killing man and woman

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THORSBY, Alta. — The Transportation Safety Board says a plane that crashed last year southwest of Edmonton, killing the two people on board, had collided with a power line.

The Harmon Rocket two-seat sport plane took off Sept. 26 from Rocky Mountain House and went down near Thorsby before catching on fire.

RCMP said at the time that the pilot, a 59-year-man, and a passenger, a 48-year-old woman, both from Rocky Mountain House, were killed.

The board says the pilot was a well-known air-show performer and was cleared to perform aerobatic manoeuvres at any altitude.

There was no public air show that day, though, and the purpose of the trip was to gather with friends for an afternoon of go-karting next to an airfield.

The board says the pilot was unfamiliar with the area and, while doing a second circuit of the field, went from flying low over the racetrack into a climb and struck an unmarked power line.

The board’s report, released Wednesday, says low-level flight is very risky because not all hazards, such as power lines, can be seen in time to avoid a collision.

The Harmon Rocket is an aircraft regularly seen at air shows across North America.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta woman accused of murdering former common-law husband with pickup truck

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A woman in southern Alberta is accused of murdering her former common-law husband by running him down with a pickup truck.

Lethbridge police say 30-year-old Austin James Forsyth was struck by a yellow Dodge Ram in the city on June 1, 2020, and died later in hospital.

Police say the pickup fled the scene.

Officers arrested Melissa Whitegrass on Tuesday following an investigation by the Violent Crimes Unit.

The 37-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, dangerous driving causing death, and assault with a weapon. 

Lethbridge police say Whitegrass and Forsyth were in a common-law relationship until 2017. 

“Violent Crimes investigators are deeming this incident as a case of domestic violence,” police said in a release Wednesday.

Whitegrass has been remanded in custody and is to appear in court on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021

The Canadian Press

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