Anna Junker – Edmonton Journal
Edmonton police acted reasonably after shooting a man armed with a shotgun outside a home in the city’s west end, Alberta’s police watchdog has found.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate after officers shot a man, who sustained a superficial gunshot wound, on Oct. 20, 2017.
In the days leading up to the shooting, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) had identified the man as the person responsible for a series of armed, violent offences. Officers were actively searching for him in order to execute a number of outstanding arrest warrants.
EPS first received a 911 call from someone who witnessed a man breaking into a neighbour’s home in west Edmonton. Several minutes later, a 911 call was placed by the man inside the home, indicating he was the one officers had been looking for and he had a person inside the home with him.
The EPS Tactical Unit was dispatched and negotiations began with the man, during which it was determined he was alone in the home and he had a shotgun. He was told not to leave the home with the shotgun as this would be perceived as a lethal threat. The man indicated he understood.
“EPS observed the man removing a screen from a window on the upper floor of the residence, and placing a doll in the window. The doll fell out of the window, and was replaced with a second doll,” the ASIRT report released Thursday states.
“Shortly after the second doll was placed in the window, the man, using the shotgun, shot the doll, which fell to the ground below. Despite the discharge of a firearm, negotiations with the man continued.”
Without warning, the man left the home and headed towards the neighbouring driveway where the tactical unit’s armoured vehicle was positioned, while carrying the shotgun in his right hand. The man was ordered to drop the gun.
“The man ignored these commands, and continued to hold the firearm with his finger on the trigger, while behaving in a manner that witnesses described as aggressive, unpredictable, and confrontational. The man yelled back at the armoured vehicle, indicating that he would not drop the firearm,” the report states.
Non-lethal weapons were deployed, including several flash-bangs and an officer fired an ARWEN less-lethal launcher at the man. When he was struck by the ARWEN round, he turned and the shotgun began to rise as he fell to the ground.
“Seeing that the man was still in a position to fire the shotgun, when the barrel of the man’s shotgun came level with officers, two officers fired a total of three shots from carbine rifles. One of these shots struck the man, who fell to the ground, dropping the gun,” the report states.
Officers recovered a loaded, sawed-off, pump-action 12-gauge shotgun with the serial number defaced, and a replica handgun from the man. He was taken to hospital for a superficial gunshot wound that did not require surgery. The man also admitted to using methamphetamine in the days leading up to the shooting.
Before leaving the home, the man made comments on social media suggesting his impending death.
The report found the man’s unexpected exit from the home with the shotgun created a situation with significant and immediate risk. Despite the risk, officers attempted to address the threat using non-lethal means.
“The risk was objectively serious and immediate, and while the man’s intentions are unknown, as he declined to provide a voluntary statement, the dangers presented by pointing a loaded firearm are indisputable,” the report states.
The report found both officers were lawfully entitled to act in defence of themselves and other officers at the scene.
“As that situation unfolded, it presented the involved officers with a reasonable apprehension that their own and other lives were endangered. The force that was used to address that danger was reasonable, given all of the circumstances.”