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Police officers acted lawfully when responding to call in Kehewin Cree Nation, according to ASIRT report

Two officers who shot at a suspect on March 9, 2022, in Kehewin Cree Nation, were found to have acted lawfully and "properly in the execution of their duties," according to a report released by ASIRT.

LAKELAND - Two officers who shot at an individual on March 9, 2022, in Kehewin Cree Nation, were found to have acted lawfully and "properly in the execution of their duties," according to a report released by Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).

On March 9, 2022, ASIRT was directed to investigate a non-fatal RCMP officer involved shooting. One person, referred to in the ASIRT report as the "affected person," was shot multiple times during his arrest.

On the same day, police had started a homicide investigation, and after receiving a 911 call, police believed that the affected person, "who was arrestable as the person responsible for the homicide," was located at a residence on Kehewin Cree Nation

The individual managed to escape into a nearby wooded area, and made his way to another residence in the community, along with two civilian witnesses. 

At the second residence, there were three more civilians and two infants. The individual was told to leave the residence by some of the civilians, according to the ASIRT report.

Police arrived at the residence at about 10:29 p.m., dressed in uniform. One of the civilians told police the individual they sought was in the residence, and many of the witnesses reported hearing police tell the individual to exit the residence and surrender.

One of the civilian witnesses reported hearing the affected person say, "I'm going out with a bang. Tell my mom I love her."

The affected person "then exited the front door of the residence while holding the handgun," reads the report. A civilian reported that the individual pointed the handgun at police "and shot first."

Two RCMP officers were near and visible from the front door of the residence. In the report, it states that the individual did not listen to commands to drop the firearm, and then one of the officers heard a shot.

Believing it was the affected person firing his gun, the first officer fired his gun at the individual several times.

The second police officer reported that when he saw the individual exit the residence with a firearm, he feared for the other officer's safety and fired his gun.

The individual "was struck by multiple rounds, seriously injuring him, and causing him to drop the gun and fall to the ground," according to the report.

Officers on scene provided medical care to the injured person until EMS arrived at 10:57 p.m.

A 9mm handgun with magazine was recovered at the scene, but "no live bullets were found in the gun or left behind at the scene," reads the report. Seven bullet holes were identified in the exterior of the residence and 13 shell casings were located outside the residence.

The ASIRT investigation found that the first officer had fired six shots, and the second officer fired nine.

One of the witnesses interviewed said someone had taken the affected persons handgun earlier and unloaded it, and the witness did not think the affected person knew the gun had been unloaded.

"Whether [the affected person] did fire at [the first police officer] or only pointed an unloaded gun at him is immaterial to the question of whether the subject officers' uses of force were appropriate... since the subject officers did not know that the gun was not loaded at that time," reads the report.

"After a thorough, independent, and objective investigation into the conduct of the subject officers, it is my opinion that they were lawfully placed and acting properly in the execution of their duties. The force used was proportionate, necessary, and reasonable in all the circumstances," reads the report, signed by Matthew Block, assistant executive director with ASIRT. 

There were no grounds to believe that an offence was committed by the officers involved. The ASIRT report was made public on May 16.

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