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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

Norad, Haiti, migration, critical minerals to top agenda for Trudeau and Biden

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WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden is embarking on a 27-hour whirwind visit to Ottawa, where he will meet Friday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and speak to a joint session of Parliament — his first bilateral sojourn north as commander-in-chief. 

Here are some of the issues the two leaders are likely to discuss:

Migration breakthrough: The two countries are already close to an agreement to expand the 2004 migration treaty known as the Safe Third County Agreement, which is designed to limit asylum claims in both countries but currently only applies to official entry points. As a result, critics say it encourages asylum seekers to enter Canada at unofficial border crossings, which allows them to make a claim. Sources familiar with the details say the two sides have been working on extending the agreement to cover the length of the Canada-U.S. border since the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last June. Such an agreement would help resolve a major political headache for Trudeau, while giving Biden the political cover he would need to devote more spending to northern border security. 

Modernizing Norad: Until last month, the binational early-warning system known as the North American Aerospace Defence Command might have been best known for tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. But a February flurry of unidentified flying objects drifting through North American airspace, most notably what U.S. officials insist was a Chinese surveillance balloon, exposed what Norad commander Gen. Glen VanHerck described as a “domain awareness gap”: the archaic, Cold War-era system’s ability to track small, high-flying, slow-moving objects. Coupled with the brazen ambitions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ongoing but largely opaque joint effort to upgrade Norad — rarely mentioned in past Trudeau-Biden readouts — is suddenly front and centre for both governments. Media reports suggest Canada could agree to an accelerated timeline. 

Helping Haiti: The list of foreign-policy hotspots around the world that instantly bring Canada to mind is a short one, but Haiti is surely near the top. And as Haiti has descended ever deeper into lawlessness in the wake of the 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise, the need for military intervention has been growing — and some senior U.S. officials have expressly name-checked Canada as the perfect country to lead the effort. Trudeau’s response has been diplomatic but firm: the crisis is best addressed from a distance. “Canada is elbows deep in terms of trying to help,” he said last month. “But we know from difficult experience that the best thing we can do to help is enable the Haitian leadership … to be driving their pathway out of this crisis.” Military experts in Canada say the Canadian Armed Forces are in no state to be able to lead any sort of intervention. U.S. officials said Wednesday they are pursuing a solution with urgency, but insist the discussions are multilateral in nature and will have to involve Haiti itself, and perhaps even the United Nations. 

Mission-critical minerals: No high-level conversation between the U.S. and Canada these days would be complete without talking about critical minerals, the 21st-century rocket fuel for the electric-vehicle revolution that Trudeau calls the “building blocks for the clean economy.” Canada has the minerals — cobalt, lithium, magnesium and rare earth elements, among others — and a strategy to develop them, but the industry is still in its infancy and the U.S. wants those minerals now. The issue has profound foreign-policy implications: China has long dominated the critical minerals supply chain, something the Biden administration is determined to change. “This really is one of the most transformative moments since the Industrial Revolution,” said Helaina Matza, the State Department’s deputy special co-ordinator for the G7’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. “We understand that we can’t do it alone.”

Water, water everywhere: Canada and the U.S. have been negotiating since 2018 to modernize the Columbia River Treaty, a 1961 agreement designed to protect a key cross-border watershed the size of Texas in the Pacific Northwest. Despite 15 separate rounds of talks, progress has been middling at best. Meanwhile, Canada is under U.S. pressure to allow the International Joint Commission — the investigative arm of a separate 1909 boundary waters agreement — to investigate toxic mining runoff in the B.C. Interior that Indigenous communities on both sides of the border say has been poisoning their lands and waters for years. Add to all of that the mounting pressure on Canada to supercharge efforts to extract and process critical minerals, and the plot promises to thicken.

Border blues: The flow of irregular migration isn’t the only bilateral issue focused on the border. Critics on both sides say travel between the two countries hasn’t been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nexus trusted-traveller program, a popular fast-tracking system in Canada, broke down last year amid a dispute over U.S. border agents working on Canadian soil; the fix is widely seen as less streamlined than the old system. Many of those same critical voices are taking issue with Canada’s imposed new tax measures to discourage foreigners from owning real estate north of the border; some on Capitol Hill have been vociferous in pressing the Biden administration to demand an exemption.

A trade deal by any other name: Regardless of what the two leaders end up talking about, it will happen within the framework of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known in Canada as CUSMA. The USMCA era of continental trade, which began in earnest in 2020, has not been without its hiccups, including disputes over U.S. access to Canada’s dairy market and the way the U.S. defines foreign automotive content. The Biden administration is also staunchly opposed to Canada’s plans for a digital services tax, which it considers a violation. The agreement is due to be reviewed in 2026, and a lot could happen — especially on Capitol Hill and in the White House — between now and then. It’s also worth noting that while it’s not covered by the trade deal, the softwood lumber dispute remains a perennial irritant. International Trade Minister Mary Ng met earlier this month with industry leaders to discuss “unwarranted and illegal U.S. duties” on softwood lumber, vowing that a solution that protects Canadian jobs “is the only resolution that we will accept.” In other words, don’t hold your breath for a breakthrough on a dispute “that’s been going on since Adam and Eve,” said Tony Wayne, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico and the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Thompson’s 37-save effort leads Golden Knights to 3-2 win over Flames

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Vegas Golden Knights goalie Logan Thompson scrambles to block the net during third period NHL hockey action against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, March 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

By Darren Haynes in Calgary

Logan Thompson’s triumphant return for Vegas after six weeks on the shelf was overshadowed by him exiting the game late in the third period with another injury.

Before he departed with just over six minutes to go, Thompson made 37 saves as the surging Golden Knights picked up a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

“Right now, obviously concerned about Logan,” said Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy. “ Obviously, Logan missing that much time, we’ll have to look closely at that one.”

It was unknown if the latest setback is related to the lower-body injury he suffered back on Feb. 9.

“I don’t know what happened, to be honest. He just got up and left,” Cassidy said. “He knows his body. I have no idea. At the end of the day, let’s hope it’s not related to the previous injury and it’s something that will be short term.”

Up 3-2 at the time, Jonathan Quick came in and turned aside all five shots he faced as Calgary poured on the pressure in search of the tying goal.

“It doesn’t happen really often but when he got out there (Quick) made a couple really good saves to keep us in the game,” said Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev.

The best chance to tie came off the stick of MacKenzie Weegar with a minute to go but he couldn’t beat Quick from 30 feet out.

“I saw the net and I missed my shot,” said the Flames defenceman. “If there was one chance I can get back all year, it would be that one.”

Nicolas Roy scored in his return from an 18-game absence for Vegas (45-21-6). Jonathan Marchessault and Michael Amadio added the others.

Milan Lucic and Nazem Kadri replied for Calgary (32-26-15). Jacob Markstrom stopped 29-of-32 shots in his 11th start in the last 12 games.

In avenging their 7-2 home loss to the Flames on March 16, the Golden Knights earned their seventh win in eight games and are 16-3-2 in their last 21 contests.

Vegas opened up a four-point cushion on the Los Angeles Kings atop the Pacific Division.

Meanwhile, the Flames took a blow to their flickering playoff hopes, falling six points behind Winnipeg for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

It’s the Flames’ 27th one-goal loss this year, which leads the NHL.

“We’re in every game, and we have a chance to win every game we’re playing, so it obviously makes it more frustrating that we lose and it feels like we’re always losing by that one goal,” said Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson.

“I don’t know how many games I’ve played back in my head thinking that ‘Ah, I should have scored that’ or ‘How did we not score that’ and we would have been in a different situation, but it’s the reality.”

Up 2-1 entering the third period, Vegas got some breathing room at 5:19 when pressure from Roy forced a defensive zone turnover from Rasmus Andersson. Roy then went to the net, received a pass from Phil Kessel and fired a shot over Markstrom.

The Flames crept back to within one at 12:33 when Kadri ended his 16-game goal drought with a power-play marker, but that’s as close as they would get.

“When it’s big games, we need guys to step up and be big players and we didn’t have that tonight from everyone,” said Lucic.

Calgary fell to 0-18-3 when trailing after two periods. The Flames are the only NHL team without a comeback victory this season.

Vegas, which entered the night having outscored teams 70-45 in the first period this year, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame, with both goals coming less than four minutes apart.

Jack Eichel sprung Marchessault who whipped a shot past Markstrom on a 2-on-1 at 11:43.

Slipping behind the Flames defence and after being stopped on his first shot, Amadio rattled in his own rebound at 15:23.

Lucic cut the deficit in half with 58 seconds left in the frame off a slick cross-ice setup from rookie Walker Duehr.

SHOW OF SUPPORT

The Flames wore #SnowyStrong stickers on the back of their helmets in support of assistant general manager Chris Snow’s ongoing battle with ALS. The stickers that feature a blue cornflower, the international symbol of hope for the fight against ALS, were created by a parent from the U9 hockey team in which Snow’s daughter plays and were first worn by that team and its coaches.

STREAKS SNAPPED

Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith had his career-best point streak snapped at nine games (four goals, 11 assists). It equalled the franchise best, also held by Alex Tuch, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.

Four Flames also had their scoring streaks come to an end. Defenceman Noah Hanifin at six games, while Tyler Toffoli, Elias Lindholm and Blake Coleman each had their four-game streaks halted.

UP NEXT

Golden Knights: Wrap up their road trip in Edmonton on Saturday night.

Flames: Play host to San Jose in an afternoon game on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.

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