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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

New year, old issues: Enbridge, state of Michigan renew Line 5 hostilities in court

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WASHINGTON — Enbridge Inc. and the state of Michigan are renewing their legal hostilities over the future of the controversial Line 5 pipeline — and their latest court battle looks an awful lot like the last one.

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were dealt a setback last November when District Court Judge Janet Neff granted Enbridge’s request that the case be removed to federal court, a decision that prompted Michigan to abandon that particular challenge.

Instead, the state is focusing its efforts on a separate but similar circuit court action filed in 2019 that spent last year in a state of suspended animation, and which Enbridge is once again arguing should be heard by a federal judge because it comprises an important foreign policy question.

Too late, Nessel argues in her latest tract of court documents, filed Friday with the very same judge who heard the original arguments.

“The present action was pending in state court for nearly two and a half years before (Enbridge) removed it to this court,” she says. Federal law makes it clear that cases can only be removed to federal jurisdiction within 30 days of a complaint being filed, the documents note.

“It is more than two years too late, and federal courts do not condone this type of gamesmanship and abuse of the removal statutes.”

By Nessel’s logic, Enbridge knew perfectly well it could have petitioned to have the case removed when it was originally filed but opted not to do so until now — a “remarkably dilatory” act based on an argument that “defies the facts, the law and basic common sense.”

Enbridge has yet to file a response to Nessel’s latest brief. However, the company has repeatedly indicated it has no plans to shut down Line 5 voluntarily and will continue to fight in court to keep it running.

The overarching question — whether a dispute over the lawful operation of an international, cross-border pipeline should be heard by a federal judge or at the state court level — is a carbon copy of the battle the two sides fought in front of Neff for the better part of last year.

The clash first erupted in November 2020, when Whitmer abruptly revoked the 68-year-old easement that had long allowed Calgary-based Enbridge to operate the line. She cited the risk of environmental catastrophe in the Straits of Mackinac, where Line 5 crosses the Great Lakes.

The pipeline ferries upwards of 540,000 barrels per day of crude oil and natural gas liquids across the Canada-U.S. border and the Great Lakes by way of a twin line that runs along the lake bed beneath the straits linking Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Proponents call Line 5 a vital and indispensable source of energy, especially propane, for several Midwestern states, including Michigan and Ohio. It is also a key source of feedstock for critical refineries on the northern side of the border, including those that supply jet fuel to some of Canada’s busiest airports.

Enbridge and its allies, including the federal Liberal government, insist that the pipeline is too vital an energy artery to both countries for it to be suddenly shut down, and the question of its continued safe operation is one to be settled between Ottawa and the White House.

Central to that argument is a 1977 bilateral treaty that was conceived to avoid disruptions to the cross-border flow of energy, one that proved to be a key element in Enbridge’s strategy to convince Neff that the controversy should be adjucated by a federal judge.

Canada said late last year that planning was “well underway” for bilateral treaty talks between Canada and the United States in the dispute over the pipeline, although the timeline for formal negotiations has never been publicly disclosed.

Last year, lawyers for the federal government also filed a statement in court expressing support for Enbridge’s argument, known in legal parlance as an amicus brief. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Ottawa expects to do so again.

The White House has acknowledged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an environmental assessment on Enbridge’s plans to encase the underwater portion of the twin pipeline in a deep, fortified underground tunnel. But they have so far resisted pressure to get involved in the dispute itself.

Critics want the line shut down, arguing it’s only a matter of time before an anchor strike or technical failure triggers a catastrophic environmental disaster in one of the area’s most important watersheds. Michigan has every right to take whatever steps are necessary to protect it, the National Wildlife Federation said in a statement.

“This motion is critical because if successful, it will allow the state courts to consider for the first time whether the risks of a rupture of Line 5 in the Great Lakes justify the continued operation of the pipeline,” said federation attorney Andy Buchsbaum.

“If Enbridge’s gamesmanship is successful, it would allow Enbridge to circumvent Michigan’s ability to protect the Great Lakes and to tie the case up in federal court by months, if not years, leaving the Great Lakes in great danger.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18,2022.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Monahan’s two-goal performance powers Calgary Flames past Florida Panthers 5-1

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CALGARY — Sean Monahan’s first two-goal game of the season helped the slumping Calgary Flames to a surprise 5-1 victory over the NHL-leading Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

After scoring a power-play goal on a deflection at 16:03 of the second period to make it 3-1, Monahan put the game away in the third, making it 5-1 at 6:43, taking a drop pass from Johnny Gaudreau and neatly beating goaltender Spencer Knight on a move from in-close.

Rasmus Andersson, with his first of the season, Matthew Tkachuk and Blake Coleman also scored for Calgary (18-11-6), which snapped a four-game losing streak and won on home ice for the first time since Nov. 29.

The Flames entered the night 2-7-1 in their previous 10 games.

Sam Bennett scored the lone goal for Florida (26-8-5), which had its four-game winning streak and nine-game points-streak (8-0-1) snapped.

The next outing for both teams will be in Edmonton with the Panthers’ second stop on a five-game road trip taking place on Thursday. Calgary isn’t back in action until Saturday when the Flames play the Oilers at Rogers Place.

Markstrom, who has given up four or more goals in four of his previous five starts, made 28 stops to improve to 13-8-5.

After starting the last seven games, Sergei Bobrovsky got the night off with Knight getting his first start since Dec. 30. Knight made 26 saves. His record falls to 7-5-2.

Calgary got off to a fast start, getting a power play four minutes into the game and taking just 23 seconds to take advantage with Andersson knocking in his own rebound from the slot.

The Flames extended their lead to 2-0 at 11:36 of the first. A stretch of prolonged pressure by Calgary’s newly formed second line culminated in Coleman’s seventh goal, the assists going to his linemates Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund.

But Bennett, in his first game back in Calgary scored 12:36 into the second to cut Florida’s deficit in half. Bennett was traded to Florida ahead of the trade deadline last season after logging 402 games with Calgary over six seasons. He’s been a revelation since joining the Panthers scoring 22 goals in 40 games.

The power play was key for the Flames striking twice on three opportunities after entering the game 0-for-10 during the losing streak.

Gaudreau had his first four-assist game ever on home ice and just the second of his career. Tkachuk also kept his offensive hot streak going with three points. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) over his last eight games.

Although the Panthers own the league’s best home record at 21-3-0, they haven’t enjoyed the same success away from FLA Live Arena, now 5-5-5.

For the Flames, they have struggled similarly at the Saddledome, picking up their first win since Nov. 29. They’re 5-4-4 on the year.

Notes: Gaudreau’s only other four-assist game was in Nashville on Feb. 21, 2017… It was the first time this season Florida did not get a point from a defenceman… Mason Marchment returned to the Panthers lineup for the first time since Jan. 1. An assist gives him a five-game point streak.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2022.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

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