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Alberta

Investigation concludes suspect convinced girlfriend to lie to police

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Alberta Serious Incident Response Team ASIRT

News Release from ASIRT (Alberta Serious Incident Response Team)

Investigation concluded into use of force during EPS arrest

On Aug. 1, 2018, pursuant to Section 46.1 of the Police Act, the Director of Law Enforcement (DLE) assigned ASIRT to investigate the circumstances surrounding a vehicle pursuit and subsequent arrest of a 31-year-old man. The man had been arrested by members of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) on July 30 following a brief vehicle pursuit which had resulted in serious injury to an uninvolved pedestrian, and was terminated by intentional contact made by two EPS vehicles.

As is required by the Police Act, these events were reported to the DLE and, based on the information that was known at the time, EPS was directed to maintain conduct of the investigation. Several days later, while being interviewed in relation to that investigation, the man alleged that he had been assaulted during the course of his arrest and had sustained several injuries. This additional information was again reported to the DLE, and ASIRT was directed to assume conduct of the investigation into both the pursuit and any force used during the subsequent arrest of the affected person.

On July 30, 2018, at approximately 12:30 a.m., EPS members operating a marked police vehicle conducted a database check on a red Buick Rendezvous SUV, which revealed the vehicle’s licence plate had been reported stolen. Members followed the vehicle without activating their emergency equipment until the SUV stopped and the driver, later identified as the 31-year-old man, exited. Police then activated their vehicle’s emergency equipment, but the man re-entered the SUV and drove away at a high rate of speed.

Police followed the SUV with emergency equipment activated, and observed the SUV run a red light at 101 Street and 107 Avenue. At this point, several other EPS vehicles had entered the area and additional members were able to observe the SUV. During its flight from police, the vehicle mounted the sidewalk at 102 Street and struck a female pedestrian and a light post. Officers who observed the collision formed the opinion that the collision with the pedestrian was deliberate. Overt action had been required to mount the sidewalk and strike the pedestrian, who was standing in a well-lit area. As well, the man’s vehicle had had an unobstructed path forward with no observable reason or cause to leave the roadway and mount the sidewalk.

After striking the pedestrian and the pole, the SUV continued east on 107 Avenue, with police continuing pursuit. A second EPS vehicle remained at the scene of the collision to render aid to the female pedestrian, who had sustained numerous serious injuries. Having witnessed what appeared to be the deliberate use of the SUV to strike a pedestrian, the driver of the lead EPS vehicle indicated that he believed it was necessary to attempt to end the criminal flight using deliberate vehicle contact. He deliberately struck the rear driver’s side of the SUV, but this tactic failed to stop the vehicle. A marked police van subsequently made deliberate contact with the SUV, this time striking it head-on, and brought the SUV to a halt. The man exited the driver’s seat of the SUV and fled on foot southbound on 103 Street.

Three police officers pursued the man on foot. During this pursuit, the lead officer deployed his conducted energy weapon (CEW), which was successful in bringing the man to the ground. The officer verbally commanded the man to roll onto his stomach, as he had turned onto his back. The man was initially compliant, but resisted when officers attempted to handcuff him. The officer reactivated the CEW, and the man was handcuffed while the CEW was still activated.

Once in custody, the man was observed to be sweating profusely, making spastic movements and acting in a manner that indicated to the arresting officers that he was under the influence of methamphetamine. Accordingly, after searching him, EMS transported the man to hospital.

Medical records obtained during the course of the ASIRT investigation confirmed that at the time of his examination at hospital, the man had a two-centimetre laceration to his forehead which was not actively bleeding, two abrasions on his shoulder area and mild swelling of the front of his head. A CT scan revealed the presence of an age-indeterminate nasal fracture, meaning that doctors were unable to determine whether the nasal fracture had occurred during this event or earlier. Medical staff determined that the man was fit for incarceration, and released him from hospital that same day.

As previously indicated, shortly after he was incarcerated, EPS interviewed the man in the course of their investigation. During that interview, the man described his arrest, discussed his injuries, and asked the interviewer about the condition of the woman he had hit during the incident. Once ASIRT assumed conduct of the investigation, the man was interviewed again – this time by an ASIRT investigator. The man described his flight from police and the collision with the pedestrian but stated that a police vehicle had struck him before the collision with the pedestrian. He also stated that he did not remember hitting anyone.

The man stated that his girlfriend ran away from police following the collision but stopped to watch his arrest. He stated that she told him that at one point six police officers were beating him. The man stated that he did not remember this, but recommended that ASIRT interview his girlfriend. He further stated that at the time of the incident he was under the influence of methamphetamine, which he had used approximately five hours before the incident. He stated that his girlfriend was under the influence of heroin, which she had consumed approximately one hour before the incident.

The man’s girlfriend was interviewed twice during the course of this investigation, once by EPS and once by ASIRT. During the first interview by EPS, she stated that she had been the lone passenger in the vehicle being operated by her boyfriend. She indicated that he had lost control of the vehicle while turning and began to drive on the sidewalk before striking a lamppost. She stated that neither of them was aware at the time that they had struck a pedestrian. During the statement, she indicated that when the final collision with the police vehicle occurred, the man jumped out of the vehicle first and was pursued by police. She stated that she ran from the scene to a friend’s house, where, through a third party, she contacted her boyfriend in jail, but advised that they did not discuss the incident. In addition to describing the events, she confirmed the man’s statements regarding her use of heroin prior to the incident.

The next day, after the case was assigned to ASIRT, the man’s girlfriend was interviewed again by ASIRT investigators. During this interview, she confirmed that she had recently spoken to her boyfriend and now suggested that the police had struck the SUV, causing the collision with the pedestrian and minimizing the man’s role in the incident. She now stated that following the final collision, she ran and hid under a car that was approximately 10 to 20 metres away. As she watched her boyfriend’s arrest, she alleged she saw police assault him.

As a result of the discrepancies between their various versions of the incident and the conversations that took place between them after the man’s arrest, ASIRT investigators took the unusual step of obtaining a judicial authorization for access to the man’s communications while in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre. The recorded calls revealed repeated attempts by the man to influence the evidence of his girlfriend in conversations directly with her and with other parties. On several occasions, the man referenced the impact that her assistance would have on his chances of getting bail on the charges arising from the incident. During two of the calls, the man’s girlfriend described the striking of the pedestrian, saying that she remembered her being in the way, running and screaming. The man advised her to downplay that aspect of the story when dealing with the police, and to state that she was not sure of the details.

During the calls, the man repeatedly exaggerated the extent of his dealings with police, stating that he had smashed four police vehicles, that he had four CEWs used upon him, had received four broken bones in his face during the incident, and had sustained dog bites during his arrest. His girlfriend’s response to these statements clearly demonstrated that she had not witnessed the arrest. It appeared that in a number of the exchanges, the man attempted to instil fear in his girlfriend in order to ensure her cooperation, and encouraged her to turn herself in to police, which he repeatedly suggested would help him.

In addition to the recorded calls, the independent evidence of three civilian witnesses and CCTV video from an area business confirmed that the man’s girlfriend did not witness his arrest as described in her second statement, but rather had immediately fled the area as she had initially described.

Despite being under no obligation to do so, each of the three police officers directly involved in the arrest of the man provided voluntary statements to ASIRT for use during the investigation. One officer acknowledged deploying his CEW during the foot pursuit of the man, which resulted in the man falling to the ground. When the man continued to struggle on the ground, and was described as actively resistant, the officer reactivated his CEW, which allowed him, with the assistance of the other two involved officers, to place the man in handcuffs. The three officers directly involved in the man’s arrest, along with all witness officers interviewed, denied participating in or witnessing any significant use of force as described by the man and his girlfriend.

On the basis of the information available to police during this incident, they were lawfully placed to arrest the man in relation to a number of Criminal Code offences, including possession of stolen property and criminal flight causing bodily harm. As the officers were engaged in the lawful execution of their duty, they were authorized by Sec. 25 of the Criminal Code to use a reasonable amount of force necessary to carry out their duties.

While the description of the amount of force used during the incident varies widely between the descriptions provided by police and the man and his girlfriend, when looking at the evidence in this matter as a whole, it is impossible to place any weight whatsoever on the versions offered by the man and his girlfriend.

In addition to the significant inconsistencies between the versions offered by both the man and his girlfriend in their own multiple statements, which would on their own significantly compromise the ability to rely upon their evidence, the recorded attempts by the man to influence the evidence of his girlfriend in hopes of convincing her to tailor her evidence to match his own is fatal to the credibility of both witnesses. Independent evidence conclusively established that the girlfriend was not present to witness the arrest.

Based on the available reliable evidence, the force used to arrest the man was both reasonable and necessary. Once restrained in handcuffs, there were no additional uses of force, and the man was taken into custody without further incident. Furthermore, it is clear from an assessment of all the evidence in this matter that the cause of the initial collision with the pedestrian was the man’s deliberate driving pattern and that there was no physical contact with the SUV by any police vehicle before the pedestrian was struck.

There are no reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe that any of the officers committed any Criminal Code offence(s). The officers were lawfully placed in their actions with the man, and the force employed was reasonable and necessary in the circumstances. As such, no charges are appropriate, and ASIRT’s involvement in the matter is concluded.

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.

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Alberta

Sergei Bobrovsky has 40-save shutout as Florida Panthers rout Edmonton Oilers 6-0

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EDMONTON — Sergei Bobrovsky made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season as the Florida Panthers defeated the ice-cold Edmonton Oilers 6-0 on Thursday.

Aleksander Barkov scored two goals and added an assist for the Panthers (27-8-5), who improved to 9-1-1 in their last 11 games.

Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett and Owen Tippett also scored for Florida.

Mikko Koskinen stopped 22 shots as the Oilers (18-16-2) lost their seventh straight.

Edmonton has a 2-11-2 record in its last 15 games.

There was no scoring in the first period despite Edmonton peppering Bobrovsky with 17 shots.

Koskinen made seven saves in the Edmonton net in the opening frame.

Florida got on the board first, scoring a power-play goal about five-and-a-half minutes into the second period. Sam Reinhart chipped a puck over splayed Oilers defender Darnell Nurse to Barkov, who fired home his 16th of the season. The Oilers have now allowed the first goal of the game in 23 of their last 27 games.

Verhaeghe was left alone in front of the net and unleashed a bullet to the top corner for his 14th goal of the season near the midway point of the game to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

Edmonton outshot Florida 29-13 through 40 minutes.

Barkov added to Florida’s lead seven minutes into the third when his long shot found its way through a screen.

The Panthers made it 4-0 with a power-play goal with four minutes left in the final period as Duclair swatted a loose puck into a wide open net for his 17th of the campaign.

Just over a minute later the Panthers got another power-play goal as Bennett sent a backhand shot off the post and in for his 17th as well.

Edmonton’s end-of-game collapse saw the Panthers score their third goal in 2:36 as Tippett notched his fifth.

Florida plays the third game of a five-stop road trip in Vancouver on Friday, while the Oilers remain home to welcome the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Notes: Florida is now 20-0 when leading after the second period… The Oilers have scored two goals or less in 10 of their last 15 games… Missing from the Florida lineup were Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and Gustav Forsling (COVID)… Out for the Oilers were Mike Smith (thumb) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (lower body), as well as Zach Hyman, Kyle Turris and Stuart Skinner (COVID)… With two goalies out for Edmonton, Ilya Konovalov was brought up from the taxi squad to serve as backup to Koskinen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Kenney says he was unaware until this week of justice minister's call to police chief

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EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he didn’t know until this week that his justice minister had called Edmonton’s police chief 10 months earlier about a traffic ticket.

“I do recall at some point last year hearing that minister (Kaycee) Madu had gotten a ticket (and) had paid for it,” Kenney told a news conference Thursday.

“I got fully briefed on all of this, including about the call and the details, on Monday afternoon following media inquiries.

“Shortly thereafter, I called minister Madu to ask what happened from his perspective and why he made this call. I expressed my serious disappointment that he would have done this.”

These were Kenney’s first public comments on the matter since tweeting out late Monday that Madu was being relieved of his justice responsibilities pending an investigation.

Kenney said he plans to hire a third party to determine if there was interference in the administration of justice. 

He said the government is drafting terms of reference for the review and has contacted former judges to oversee it. 

Critics, including the Opposition NDP, have said the investigation is unnecessary given that all the principals involved, including Madu, agree he made the call to Chief Dale McFee last March.

They said that even though Madu did not try to have McFee cancel the ticket, making such a call violates parliamentary tradition that cabinet ministers don’t intervene directly in the judicial system in matters in which they have a personal stake.

NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir said Kenney has no choice but to fire Madu from his justice post.

Madu has not spoken publicly on the issue, but put out a series of statements this week on social media.

In them, he stressed he did not call the chief to cancel the ticket — a point McFee corroborates — but said he wanted, and received, assurances from McFee that he wasn’t being targeted for the ticket because he is Black or because he was in a high-profile government job.

Kenney, asked by reporters why he hasn’t fired Madu, said the issue is not clear cut. He noted that Madu did not ask for his ticket to be rescinded but did raise concerns about issues such as racial profiling.

“I was not on this call,” said Kenney.

“I think given the issues that have been raised, it is appropriate to allow for a little bit of time for an investigation from somebody with legal training who is impartial to provide me with advice on whether this constituted an effort to interfere with the independent administration of justice.”

Madu, the United Conservatives’ only legislature member in Edmonton, had been justice minister since August 2020. He is serving his first term in the legislature.

On the morning of March 10, he was ticketed for distracted driving for being on a cellphone while behind the wheel in a school zone. He paid the $300 ticket soon after but not before reaching out to McFee. 

This issue did not become public until media reports Monday.

Madu, in his statements, has also disagreed with the ticket. He said his phone was in his pocket at the time.

That prompted an angry response Wednesday from Staff Sgt. Mike Elliott, head of the Edmonton Police Association, which represents rank and file officers.

Elliott, on Twitter, questioned Madu’s fitness for the justice job.

“I personally know the member who issued the ticket, and to make an erroneous assumption he was surveilling you is shameful and preposterous,” wrote Elliott.

He said that even if Madu believed he was being unfairly treated, there is a complaint process that should be followed that doesn’t include a direct line to the chief of police.

“The audacity and arrogance is very clear and you are not deserving to be the minister of justice, who is supposed to represent all citizens in a fair and impartial manner.”

Madu’s case is the latest in a string of changes to Kenney’s cabinet in just over a year.

In November, Devin Dreeshen quit as agriculture minister amid concerns over his conduct and drinking. 

In September, Tyler Shandro left the health portfolio. Kenney said Shandro asked for the change, citing the gruelling fight against COVID-19 as a factor.

Leela Aheer, the minister for culture, multiculturalism and the status of women, was turfed in July from cabinet after she publicly criticized Kenney for breaking COVID-19 health rules by having a patio dinner outside his temporary penthouse office.

Aheer’s portfolio was carved up and distributed to others. Kenney denied the decision was political payback.

And just over a year ago, in January 2021, Tracy Allard resigned as municipal affairs minister after public outrage over a Christmas holiday trip she took to Hawaii. The trip happened at the same time the government was urging Albertans to stay home and isolate to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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