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ASIRT says shooting of armed suspect reasonable use of force

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From ASIRT (Alberta Serious Incident Response Team

On Sept. 27, 2017, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a 29-year-old man in Lloydminster that resulted in an officer-involved shooting. 

During the arrest, the man was struck by a police vehicle and two RCMP officers discharged their service pistols, resulting in serious injury.

ASIRT interviewed police and civilian witnesses, including the 29-year-old man and both subject officers. Large portions of the events, including the uses of force were captured on audio and video recordings. ASIRT’s investigation is complete.

Having reviewed the investigation, executive director Susan Hughson, QC concluded there were no reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe the involved officers committed any criminal offence.

On Sept. 27, 2017, Lloydminster RCMP officers attempted to stop a Dodge truck in relation to an outstanding investigation. The truck entered the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant. An officer in a marked RCMP vehicle pulled behind the truck and activated its lights and siren. Other officers pulled in front of the truck. In response, the driver of the truck drove over the drive-thru curb and up an embankment to the roadway, speeding past two officers standing with their service pistols pointed at the truck. As the driver exited the parking lot, he headed northbound on 40 Avenue and engaged in a high-speed criminal flight from police.

As the truck approached 52 Street, it collided with a SUV driven by a 25-year-old woman, causing extensive damage to both vehicles and causing the woman’s vehicle to roll, landing on its roof. The woman did not sustain serious injury. The visible damage to her vehicle and the force of the collision would have easily left an observer with the belief that any occupant would have likely sustained serious injury or died. Data downloaded from the truck confirmed that immediately prior to the collision, it had been travelling at a speed of 144 km/h, and was moving at 124 km/h at the moment of collision.

The truck stopped on the side of the road. A passenger fled on foot from the truck to an adjacent field. The 29-year-old exited the truck holding a handgun, and immediately ran towards a man who stopped his truck to provide assistance.

An officer in pursuit pulled over his marked police vehicle and exited upon seeing the collision. He shouted verbal commands to drop the gun as the 29-year-old man ran towards the second truck. When the armed man failed to comply, the officer fired his service pistol. The man kept running and reached the civilian’s truck, attempting to gain entry. With a gun in hand, the man began banging on the driver’s window and yelling for him to “get out of the truck.”

As the armed man stood at the driver’s door, a second officer drove up in his unmarked RCMP SUV and clipped the armed man with the vehicle, causing him to spin away and fall, dropping the gun. As the second officer exited his SUV, the man got up, grabbed the handgun and raised it. The officer fired two shots from his service pistol striking the man.

The man fell to the ground, where he was arrested and handcuffed. RCMP members contacted Emergency Medical Services, who responded to the scene, provided medical attention and transported the man to a nearby hospital. He was subsequently transferred by STARS air ambulance to an Edmonton hospital where he was treated for what would ultimately turn out to be serious, permanent injuries including partial paralysis.

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. When necessary, where an officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that the person presents an imminent risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the officer or any other person, he or she may use force that is intended or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm. An officer may also use lethal force in limited circumstances to prevent the flight of a person.

During the course of these events, the 29-year-old man demonstrated he was highly motivated to escape, having driven over an embankment and fled police. He was not only prepared to endanger others to do so, but had possibly already injured or killed an uninvolved woman who had simply been in his path, having forcefully collided with her vehicle. Instead of remaining at the scene of the collision or checking on the condition of the driver of the other vehicle, the man took a handgun from the truck before running towards a vehicle that stopped to provide assistance. In these circumstances, the man objectively presented a risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the occupant of that vehicle. Having directed the man to stop or drop the gun, the first officer’s use of force was reasonable and necessary. This risk became even more immediate when the man reached and attempted to enter the stopped truck. The use of the police vehicle to remove the armed man from the vehicle door of the innocent bystander was reasonable in the circumstances.

Having been fired on by the first officer, and struck by a police vehicle, the man stood and instead of running or surrendering, decided to pick up the handgun. In that moment, the man presented a risk of grievous bodily harm or death to not only the innocent bystander but also to the officer.

The officers’ use of force during this event, while they were lawfully placed and engaged in the lawful execution of their duties, was both reasonable and justified in the circumstances. In the opinion of the executive director, there can be no doubt that the actions of the officers prevented the man from committing what could be characterized as an armed robbery, or more simply, a “car-jacking”, that could have easily resulted in the serious injury or death of the driver of that vehicle. As such, no charges will be laid against the officers.

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.

Alberta

Update 19: Northwest Alberta wildfires (June 12 at 5 p.m.)

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June 12, 2019

Evacuation orders have been lifted for Bigstone Cree Nation and the Hamlets of Wabasca-Desmarais, Sandy Lake and Chipewyan Lake. More than 3,700 people are now able to return home.

To date, more than 9,800 evacuees from the following communities have been approved to return home:

  • High Level
  • Mackenzie County
  • Dene Tha’ First Nation
  • County of Northern Lights, south of Twin Lakes Campground including Notikewin
  • Marten Beach (MD of Lesser Slave Lake)
  • Keg River/Carcajou
  • Peerless and Trout Lake communities
  • Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
  • Municipal District of Opportunity 17
    • Hamlet of Wabasca-Desmarais
    • Hamlet of Sandy Lake
    • Hamlet of Chipewyan Lake

Evacuees returning received re-entry packages with advice on what to do when they arrived home.

Evacuees can find tips on re-entry by visiting https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx. Information includes making sure all your utilities are working, cleaning up and how to deal with door-to-door salespeople offering services and insurance.

Approximately 700 evacuees are displaced due to a mandatory evacuation order for Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement.

The following communities remain on evacuation alert:

  • Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
  • Hamlet of Wabasca-Desmarais
  • Hamlet of Sandy Lake
  • Hamlet of Chipewyan Lake
  • County of Northern Lights
    • North of Township Road 910 to the north county border, including the Twin Lakes Campground, Keg River, Carcajou and the Town of Manning

Current situation:

  • Chuckegg Creek wildfire, southwest of High Level, is about 269,648 hectares.
  • Jackpot Creek wildfire, approximately 11 kilometres north of Lutose, is about 28,167 hectares.
  • McMillan Wildfire Complex, southwest of Bigstone Cree Nation, is more than 263,969 hectares.
  • Battle Wildfire Complex in Peace River is about 55,179 hectares.
  • There are more than 2,000 wildland and structural firefighters and staff, approximately 159 helicopters and 22 air tankers and 233 pieces of heavy equipment on these fires.
  • Check Alberta Emergency Alerts for more detailed and frequently updated information.
  • People driving in fire-affected areas should carry enough fuel, as it may not be readily available.
  • Be cautious of organizations not registered to solicit donations. For information on how you can help, visit https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx.

Visit alberta.ca/emergency for detailed and frequently updated information.

Air quality

Financial supports

  • Evacuees should check alberta.ca/emergency for updates on evacuation payment eligibility.
  • Evacuees in need of financial assistance for immediate needs can apply for an Income Support program emergency needs allowance. This benefit may cover your accommodation, clothing and other urgent needs. Please call 1-877-644-9992 for more information.
  • You may qualify for the evacuation payment if you:
    • were living, working or vacationing in the affected area
    • were forced to leave due to an evacuation order
    • paid for most of your costs to evacuate
    • were forced to leave your residence (primary, working or vacationing) due to a mandatory evacuation order – current communities include:
      • High Level
      • Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
      • Bushe River
      • Chateh
      • Meander River
      • Wabasca-Desmarais
      • Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
      • Sandy Lake
      • Chipewyan Lake Village
      • Keg River
      • Carcajou
      • Northern border of the County of Northern Lights to Township Road 922 (Notikewin Road)
      • Steen River
      • Trout Lake
  • Albertans who qualify will receive $1,250 and $500 for each dependent child under 18 living in the same home when the evacuation order was given.
  • Application methods:
  • Apply online through the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment application using a smartphone, device or desktop. Interac e-transfers may take 24 hours to process.
  • All payment distribution centres are now closed.
  • If you need help applying, contact Alberta Supports to find the nearest centre: Toll free: 1-877-644-9992 (Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.) In-person: Find an Alberta Supports Centre.
  • More than 11,400 individuals have received evacuee support totaling close to $11.6 million.

Reception and call centres

  • All evacuees should register with an evacuation reception centre, even if you’ve found alternate accommodations.
  • Reception centres are assisting evacuees either in person and/or by phone:
    • Grande Prairie – 780-567-5587
    • Peace River Town Hall (9911 100 Street) – 780-624-2574
    • Wabasca-Desmarais Lakeview Sports Centre (102 Opportunity Drive) – 780-891-2659
    • Dene Wellness Centre – 1-867-874-2652
  • Evacuation reception centre hours can be found at alberta.ca/emergency.
  • The Government of Alberta contact centre is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Call 310-4455.

Highway updates

  • To stay informed on all road closures due to the wildfires, visit 511.Alberta.ca or download the mobile app.

Insurance information

  • Most home and tenant insurance policies provide coverage for living expenses during an evacuation.
  • Evacuees should retain all of their receipts for food, accommodation and other related expenses to provide to their insurer.
  • Albertans can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at askibcwest@ibc.ca. Information about insurance coverage is available online at ibc.ca/ab/disaster/alberta-wildfire.

Justice and legal matters

  • Community Corrections and Release operations have resumed in High Level.
  • High Level Court is open.
  • Chateh Court matters will be heard in High Level Court until further notice. Call 780-926-3715 for inquiries.
  • Fort Vermilion Court matters have resumed. Call 780-926-3715 for inquiries.
  • Wabasca-Desmarais matters will continue to be held in High Prairie until further notice. Call the High Prairie Court at 780-523-6600 regarding any matters scheduled.

Education

  • The schools of Fort Vermilion School Division will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Students wishing to write a diploma exam, Grade 6 or Grade 9 provincial achievement tests should make arrangements with the Fort Vermilion School Division. For further information visit: fvsd.ab.ca.
  • School officials in fire-impacted areas will address the impacts of disruption on the academic program and school year. Students or their guardians should watch for online or direct communications from local school authorities about specific changes.

Provincial park closures

  • All provincial parks that were temporarily closed due to the threat of fire have reopened.
  • Calling Lake Provincial Park campground is currently supporting evacuees. The boat launch in Calling Lake remains open.
  • Current information about fire bans, restrictions and closures in provincial parks and campgrounds is available at http://www.albertaparks.ca/

Boil water advisory

  • A boil water advisory is in place for Meander River (Dene Tha’ First Nation).

Health

  • Wabasca-Desmarais Healthcare Centre is now open.
  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour help line at 1-877-303-2642, the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322, or Health Link at 811.
  • The Northwest Health Centre in High Level is open.
  • Alberta Health Services is providing enhanced addiction and mental health services to help residents in High Level following the evacuation.
  • New, temporary walk-in services for individuals experiencing addiction and mental health concerns are available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mental Health Clinic at Northwest Health Centre in High Level. For more information, please call the clinic directly at 780-841-3229.
  • Alberta Health Services has relocated acute patients and continuing care residents from La Crete and Fort Vermilion to health facilities in Edmonton and surrounding communities.
  • The emergency department at St. Theresa General Hospital in Fort Vermilion remains open. 

Pets and livestock

  • High Level animal control has collected household pets that have been left behind. For questions regarding your pets, please call 780-926-2201.
  • For evacuees in the Wabasca area, please fill out an online form on the Alberta Animal Disaster Response Facebook group, or text 403-869-4964 and provide your name, contact number, number of animals missing, where they were last seen, and a brief description of your pet.
  • The County of Northern Lights will allow residents to enter property to look after livestock between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Residents must first go to the county office to register for the temporary access pass.

Electricity and natural gas billing

  • High Level and area residential, farm, irrigation and small commercial electricity and natural gas customers will not be billed for the period covered by the evacuation order.

Donations and volunteers

  • High Level is not accepting donations or volunteers at this time.
  • The Town of Slave Lake has set up an online form for offers.
  • Check the Mackenzie County Facebook page for an up-to-date list of donations needed and drop-off locations.
  • There have been reports that local residents in High Level are being solicited by email or phone for donations in support of firefighters or affected residents. Do not share your personal information with them or donate money.
  • When asked for donations (either over the phone, through an e-mail, or in person), ask the canvasser for identification or printed information about the charity.
  • If you have concerns about the activities of a charitable organization including its fundraising practices, call Service Alberta: 1-877-427-4088.

Canada Post

  • Mail and parcel delivery in certain communities has been affected by the wildfires.
  • Canada Post has contingency measures in place to serve residents of these communities.
  • Check the Canada Post website for updates.

Other income and social supports

  • Evacuees who receive Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or Income Support benefits by cheque should contact their worker to make arrangements to receive it.
  • Call Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992 between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday to Friday if you:
    • need information on other social supports
    • are a contracted service provider, family member or individual needing assistance through the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program
  • For information on child intervention and child care, call 1-800-638-0715
  • Employment insurance: evacuees can visit Service Canada online to apply at www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html. Use code 4812014812201900.

Health card, driver’s licences, ID cards, birth certificate

  • To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card call 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.  
  • If driver’s licences, identification cards, and/or birth certificates were left behind during the evacuation, replacement cards and certificates can be ordered free of charge at a registry agent.

Public information

  • You can call 310-4455 for more information – Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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Alberta

Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Mike Rogers, Hockey Athlete

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Mike Rogers played professional hockey for a total of 12 years; five years in the World Hockey Association, then seven years in the National Hockey League. Mike has the distinction of being one of only four players in the NHL to achieve 100 points in their first three seasons – the others are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Peter Stastny. Mike’s first year in the NHL was with the expansion Harford Whalers team in 1979/80. He scored 105 points in both his first and second year. Mid-way through the 1980/81season, he was named captain. Mike joined the New York Rangers for the 1981/82 season and led the team with 103 points. He averaged 67 points in his next three seasons as the team adapted a more defensive style of play. In 484 regular-season NHL games, he had 519 points. In 1974/75, during Mike’s first year in the WHA, he led the Edmonton Oilers rookies in goals and points and was selected the WHA’s Most Gentlemanly Player. He was traded to the New England Whalers in 1975/76 and was their top scorer in 1978/79. In 396 WHA games, he scored 145 goals and had 222 assists for 367 points.

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