Edmonton – Two Alberta Mounties accused of manslaughter acted in self-defence when they shot a man in a pickup truck 10 times, defence lawyers told a jury Monday.
Const. Jessica Brown and Cpl. Randy Stegner of the Whitecourt RCMP pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in the death of Clayton Crawford, as well as aggravated assault.
The jury heard that the two officers fired 11 shots on July 3, 2018, at the purple Dodge truck that was believed to be connected to a shooting the day before in Valhalla Centre, a hamlet 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
Crawford suffered 10 gunshot wounds, said prosecutor Linda Shin in her opening argument.
She called the shooting “unnecessary and unreasonable.”
The jury heard that Crawford was wanted on warrants at the time. He had previously been arrested for discharging a firearm and was known to police as being involved in the drug trade.
Brown’s defence lawyer Robb Beeman said a potential dispute over a “drug den” could have instigated the shooting in Valhalla Centre.
Lawyers said it’s unclear whether Crawford was a suspect or a target in the shooting in the hamlet, as several vehicles were seen fleeing the area. Crawford’s girlfriend was shot in the leg and was rushed to a hospital for surgery.
The trial was told that the truck took off and was seen the next day at the Chickadee Creek rest stop about 50 kilometres northwest of Whitecourt. The sighting was reported by an off-duty officer.
Three other officers, including Brown and Stegner, responded to the rest area. Crawford was sleeping when they approached the vehicle and told him to put his hands up, said Beeman.
There was a struggle between Crawford and the three officers, Beeman said, and Crawford tried to “aggressively” drive away.
Brown shot at the vehicle eight times with a semi-automatic rifle, while Stegner fired a semi-automatic handgun three times, said Shin.
Beeman said his client acknowledges that she fired her rifle, but she feared for her life and the lives of her fellow officers. The truck missed hitting Brown by inches, the lawyer said.
RCMP later found a machete in the truck and a butcher knife under its front seat, said Beeman.
Three police cruisers at the scene were equipped with cameras that recorded the shooting, said Shin, adding the footage is crucial evidence that will be shown during the three-week trial.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
TC Energy shuts down Keystone pipeline system after leak in Nebraska
CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. says it has shut down its Keystone pipeline after a leak in Nebraska.
The company says it has mobilized people and equipment in response to a confirmed release of oil into a creek, about 32 kilometres south of Steele City, Neb.
TC Energy says an emergency shutdown and response was initiated Wednesday night after a pressure drop in the system was detected.
It says the affected segment of the pipeline has been isolated and booms have been deployed to prevent the leaked oil from moving downstream.
The Keystone pipeline system stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America.
TC Energy says the system remains shutdown as its crews respond and work to contain and recover the oil.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.
Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)
The Canadian Press
Two deputy chief medical officers resign from their positions with Alberta Health
Edmonton – Alberta’s two deputy chief medical officers of health are leaving their roles — less than a month after Dr. Deena Hinshaw was removed as the province’s top doctor.
Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed during question period Wednesday that both of the doctors have submitted letters of resignation.
“They are still continuing to work at this point in time,” he said in the legislature. “We are in the process of actually looking to fill those roles.”
A statement from Alberta Health said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu, who are listed as public health physicians on the department’s website, have given notice.
When reached by her department email, Salvaterra responded: “Unfortunately, we are not able to comment.”
She later added that she respects and admires both Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Hu.
“They are brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate public health physicians and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside them for these past 14 months.”
Salvaterra, who has extensive public health experience including as the medical officer of health for Peterborough, Ont., joined the office in October 2021.
Her career in public health includes work in “the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.”
Hu’s out-of-office message said her “last day at work with Alberta Health was Nov. 18, 2022,” and noted she wouldn’t have access to the department email after that date.
She got extensive training in China and at the University of Calgary before joining the health department in January 2020.
Their resignations came within a month of Hinshaw, who became the face of Alberta’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being removed from her position.
Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, a senior executive member of Alberta Health Services, on an interim basis.
“Dr. Joffe will be supported by medical officers of health within AHS, by other staff in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and by the Public Health Division,” said the statement from Alberta Health late Wednesday.
“We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”
Hinshaw’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise.
Premier Danielle Smith announced on her first day in office in October that she would be replaced.
Smith has made it clear that she blames both Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of the bad decisions were made by Alberta Health Services on the basis of bad advice from the chief medical officer of health,” Smith told reporters on Oct. 22.
Smith has not placed the blame on front-line doctors and nurses but broadly on AHS senior management. Joffe, while serving as chief medical officer of health, retains his role in AHS senior management as a vice-president responsible for areas in cancer and clinical care.
Hinshaw, an Alberta-trained public health specialist, became a celebrity of sorts in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, as she delivered regular, sometimes daily, updates to Albertans on the virus, its spread and methods to contain it.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.
— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.
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