Alberta’s police watchdog has cleared an officer of wrongdoing for shooting three times at a car that had driven around barriers toward a military parade in Calgary in 2019.
In a decision released Thursday, Matthew Block, assistant executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said that the unnamed officer’s use of force was “appropriate, necessary and reasonable” in the circumstances. He said no charges will be laid against the officer.
The shooting happened on Oct. 9, 2019, after a then-21-year-old man drove a stolen 2009 black Toyota Corolla toward a military parade in downtown Calgary. He and a 28-year-old female passenger both sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting.
The ASIRT report says the officer, who was on a mountain bike, motioned for the driver to stop at an intersection along the parade route. The driver stopped briefly before turning right and accelerating toward the oncoming parade, which was approximately 100 metres away.
The report says after stopping, the driver backed up before accelerating and driving through a bike lane onto the sidewalk, then hitting a building.
Two other officers followed the vehicle on foot and said they repeatedly yelled at the driver to stop. The driver came close to hitting one of the officers, who had his firearm drawn and had to move out of the path of the vehicle when the original officer arrived in the area.
As the vehicle was driving past, that officer fired an initial shot when he was directly beside the driver, shattering the driver’s window. He then fired an additional two shots seconds later when the vehicle was about 10 metres away.
The driver’s left arm was broken during the shooting and a bullet fragment was left in that arm. The passenger’s left thigh was struck by a bullet fragment. The vehicle sustained damage to both doors on the driver’s side, the ASIRT report says.
The driver then turned off the parade route and drove two blocks before colliding with a van at an intersection after running a red light, the report says. Police arrived shortly after the collision and arrested the driver and passenger, who they said attempted to flee on foot.
ASIRT said there was no evidence the driver knew about the parade or had any intent to harm the participants. It said his actions were more consistent with a drug-intoxicated driver in a stolen vehicle trying to get away from police.
The report said the driver admitted to smoking methamphetamine an hour before.
ASIRT found that the officer’s use of force was reasonable and proportionate as the 21-year-old’s “erratic and very dangerous” driving was a serious risk to the officers, as well as any pedestrians or cyclists.
The police watchdog also found the officer’s first shot was necessary as the driver was directly beside him and had almost hit another officer.
While the second and third shots were not as clearly necessary, ASIRIT said it would not have been immediately clear to the officer that the driver was fleeing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2023.
— By Emily Blake in Yellowknife
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press