Thursday, July 25, 2013

ASIRT rules Lethbridge police officers justified in fatal shooting

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has completed its investigation into the actions of two Lethbridge Regional Police Service (LRPS) members in a July 2012 fatal officer-involved shooting.

During the late evening hours of July 15, 2012, three uniformed members of the LRPS were dispatched to a home after a 911 call was made by an individual inside the location, who reported a family member was intoxicated and trying to fight with people inside the house. The caller also stated the person had a knife and threatened people in the home with it.

 After ensuring the safety of three males outside of the residence, the first two officers on-scene entered the home. Inside, they encountered the reported individual and found him still in possession of a knife. Verbal commands were made by the officers for the man to drop the knife. He refused, advanced towards the two LRPS members, and was subsequently shot by both. The 26-year old man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

On July 15, ASIRT was assigned by the Alberta Director of Law Enforcement to investigate. Several ASIRT investigators were assigned to the file and interviewed numerous civilian, professional and police witnesses during the course of the investigation. Dispatch records, communications recordings and forensic evidence were also obtained to assist in the investigation. An additional component of the investigation included consultation with the Canadian Bhutanese Society, as the affected person was of Bhutanese descent and had recently immigrated to Canada.

Upon completion of the investigation, the file was reviewed for final decision by ASIRT Executive Director, Clifton Purvis. Along with the investigative report, Mr. Purvis took into account all of the statements and evidence collected and determined that the two officers did not commit any criminal offences in relation to this fatal officer-involved shooting. The Director concluded the affected person posed a credible threat to cause the officers harm and that the police officers were justified in their actions.

“This finding does not diminish the devastating loss that the affected person’s family has suffered. The sympathies of myself, and the members of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, go out to the family, friends of the affected person and Lethbridge Bhutanese community.” Mr. Clifton Purvis, ASIRT Executive Director.

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