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Alberta

RCMP officer acted reasonably in shooting incident: ASIRT

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RCMP officer acted reasonably in shooting incident

January 17, 2019 Media inquiries

On Sept. 22, 2017, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the discharge of firearm by a member of the RCMP, with no injuries to anyone.

In the early hours that day, Redwater RCMP notified surrounding areas to be on the lookout for a vehicle involved in two armed robberies and a vehicle pursuit, which had just occurred in their area. One of these robberies resulted in a gunshot injury to the victim. An RCMP officer was driving home after his shift at the Fort Saskatchewan detachment when he spotted a vehicle that matched the suspect vehicle, travelling in the ditch with no headlights or taillights on, just outside of Fort Saskatchewan. The officer reported the information to RCMP and EPS dispatch, and followed the suspect vehicle at a distance while providing updates. The suspect vehicle was intercepted by EPS patrol units, but failed to stop. Following a lengthy pursuit, the suspect vehicle was abandoned in a rural area and the occupants fled on foot.

The RCMP and EPS units established a perimeter to contain the area, as it was believed that the suspects might attempt to steal another vehicle to leave the area. The RCMP officer who had reported the suspect vehicle, still in full uniform, offered to assist and joined another RCMP officer in a fully marked police vehicle. An unidentified truck was observed driving in the area where the suspect vehicle had been abandoned, and a decision was made to stop the truck and identify the driver.

Two marked RCMP vehicles were positioned to stop the unidentified truck at the intersection of Township Road 472 and Range Road 242. As two officers approached the cab of the truck to speak with the driver and lone occupant, the reporting officer held his position behind the deployed spike belt with his firearm drawn at low-ready. The driver of the truck appeared nervous to the officers, was unable to produce identification, and provided an explanation for his presence that was suspicious. The two officers directed the driver to exit the vehicle. As one of the officers reached for the truck driver’s door handle to pull it open, the driver put the truck in motion and accelerated forward quickly, directly towards the officer positioned behind the spike belt. The officer fired his service pistol at the vehicle, and simultaneously jumped to the side, out of the vehicle’s path. Several rounds struck the vehicle but did not enter into the passenger cab of the vehicle, and no one was injured. Having passed over the spike belt, the tires of the truck rapidly deflated and the vehicle was stopped a short distance away. Ultimately, the driver exited the vehicle and was arrested without further incident. Further investigation determined that the truck was, in fact, stolen.

Under S. 25 of the Criminal Code, police officers are entitled to use as much force as is reasonably necessary to carry out their lawful duties. With potentially armed and dangerous individuals at large, the situation was already high-risk. The driver of the motor vehicle was stopped in circumstances where it was not possible for the involved officers to know whether he might have potential association or possible involvement in the earlier events that had resulted in an individual having been shot or the suspects at large. In this situation, the driver’s attempt to escape, the manner of his operation of the (stolen) motor vehicle, including the speed and the decision to drive directly at the officer, created a risk of imminent death or grievous bodily harm to the police officer. The risk was objectively serious and immediate. Furthermore, under S. 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. At the point where the driver put the truck in motion in the direction of the officer, the officer was lawfully entitled to act in self-defence. The use of force ceased within a reasonable time frame, and the driver was arrested without further incident. While the officer’s shift had technically ended, he maintained his authorities as a police officer in the province of Alberta and at the time that the driver drove at him, he was entitled to act in the lawful execution of his duties in the face of an individual who was committing criminal offences in that moment, as a police officer, and as a person entitled to defend himself from grievous bodily harm or death.

Having reviewed the investigation, there are no reasonable grounds, nor even reasonable suspicion, to believe that the officer committed any Criminal Code offence. While it is unfortunate that the lives of both the officer and the driver were placed at risk during this encounter, that risk resulted from the driver’s attempt to escape what was a lawful detention by members of the RCMP. The force used in response to that escape attempt was reasonable given all of the circumstances.

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.

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Lieutenant Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Board Member Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) Musician, Photographer, Former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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Alberta

After prior rejections, Alberta announces sandhill crane hunt for this fall

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EDMONTON — Alberta has announced there will be a sandhill crane hunting season this fall — a hunt that’s been opposed by an environmental group and was previously rejected by the provincial government three times.

The province said in a news release on Sunday that the season launches on September 1 in more than 50 wildlife management units in southern and east-central Alberta.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon says in the release that it “will support the province’s wildlife management goals and boost local economies.”

Alberta Conservation Association president Todd Zimmerling says in the same release that the birds make “excellent table fare” and that they’ve been hunted for many years across the rest of their range.

But Nissa Pettersen of the Alberta Wilderness Association said earlier this year, when the minister told a magazine he’d asked his department consider a hunt, that despite their healthy numbers, the birds reproduce slowly and are rapidly losing the wetlands where they live.

Alberta decided against sandhill crane hunts in 2009, 2013 and 2014.

“Alberta hunters care deeply about the province’s environment, species and wild places, and providing another opportunity to engage in a pursuit that supports conservation as well as economic activity is a win-win,” Nixon said in the release.

The province said sandhill crane hunting seasons have existed in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba for more than 50 years, with the sandhill crane population remaining healthy.

It said the number of sandhill cranes in the Alberta has increased steadily in recent years, adding that the hunt is supported by Alberta hunting stakeholders, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Central Flyway Council.

There are more than 600,000 sandhill cranes across North America.

But Pettersen said in April that because the cranes depend on wetlands that are disappearing, and also have a low birth rate, that they might not bounce back from a year of hunting. 

The Alberta Wilderness Association also said that a hunt would threaten the endangered whooping crane, which uses some of the same migration routes and could be mistaken for either bird.

The Canadian Wildlife Service proposed in December that the province open a fall sandhill season, saying it would provide a new hunting opportunity in Alberta and provide a mechanism to deal with crop depredation issues caused by cranes.

Pettersen discounted concerns about the birds eating crops in the field, noting that when that argument was made during the last debate over hunting, the total of actual complaints against the birds was five.

The province says hunters will need a provincial game bird licence and a federal migratory bird licence to hunt sandhill cranes. It says the Alberta hunt is expected to add only two per cent to the number of sandhill cranes harvested across North America.

The provincial release says fishing, hunting, trapping, and sport-shooting activities contributed $1.8 billion to Alberta’s GDP in 2018, supporting 11,700 jobs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta First Nation monitors hundreds for COVID-19 as it announces curfew

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SIKSIKA NATION, Alta. — A First Nation in southern Alberta has implemented a curfew as its health workers monitor more than 200 people for signs they may have developed COVID-19.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said in video messages posted on Facebook that as of Thursday there were 21 known COVID-19 positive cases with links to the community west of Calgary, and that five separate and unrelated case clusters had been uncovered in the previous 12 days.

Crowfoot said that as of Wednesday, 258 Siksika Nation members were under “active investigation and daily followup” by the community’s health services team — a number he said had quadrupled in only three days.

On Friday, councillors approved a temporary curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, with exceptions that Crowfoot said can be made on an as-needed basis for work or other reasons.

Crowfoot encouraged Siksika Nation members to co-operate with health officials if they call, and to avoid non-essential travel to nearby cities. 

He said the risk of community transmission is high and that each new case cluster makes it even harder to contact trace and isolate people fast enough.

“We realize you have freedom of choice but we don’t have freedom of consequence. If we choose not to follow these guidelines, the consequence may be that we contract the virus and spread the virus further through our community,” Crowfoot warned in a video message posted Thursday.

In a message posted Friday, Crowfoot said his community had met meeting with federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Alberta Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson to address shortfalls in resources for dealing with the pandemic.

Crowfoot said the community’s annual Sun Dance ceremony was continuing, but that each participant was being tested prior to entering and that health workers were screening people as they came and went.

“It is understandable that people may feel anxious regarding this current situation, but if we continue to stay vigilant to the public health measures and do our best to limit travel and to avoid gatherings we have a chance to slow down the spread on our nation and also give our health team a chance to do their job,” Crowfoot said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

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july, 2020

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