Family traumatized after false allegation leads to tactical team storming north Edmonton home

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Family traumatized after tactical team storms north Edmonton home
It was a regular Thursday evening for a family living in Edmonton's north end, but it quickly turned to terror as a tactical team knocked in their door. RCMP said they believed there could be a victim held a gunpoint, but it was a false allegation. Sarah Komadina explains what happened. – Nov 6, 2023

A regular Thursday evening for a family living in north Edmonton quickly turned to terror as the Edmonton Police Service tactical team banged in their door.

Alberta RCMP said officers believed there could be a victim held a gunpoint — but it turned out to be a false allegation.

The frightening mistake happened Thursday, Nov. 2, at around 5:20 p.m. at a home near 148th Avenue and 75A Street in the Kilkenny neighbourhood, and was captured on security camera video.

The family didn’t know why there was an EPS tactical vehicle with ramrod knocking in their front door.

At the same time, police stormed the home’s back door and three screaming teenagers were taken outside, where they were told to lay face down on the ground.

“I’m just a kid, why are we being arrested?” one of the teens asked tearfully.

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“We’re not going to be shot, right?” she asked and was assured by officers that wouldn’t happen. “Ok I’m just really scared,” she replied.

A 15-year-old boy’s shirt came off while he was being ordered to the ground where he laid bare-chested on the cold concrete patio while zip-tied.

Two kids in the detached garage were also ordered outside.

Vicki Cooke is their grandma. She said she was sleeping and her husband was watching a sports game when it all happened.

“I was just looking at the door and saying, ‘What the hell is going on here?’… I come around this corner and this drone is going around the hallway and almost flew right in my head.

“I went to the back door and they are all standing in a line back there, with all the kids lying on the ground.”

The kids were just hanging out with their grandparent, she said.

“They wouldn’t even let me get my grandson a sweater. I wanted to put a sweater on him.”

James Potts said his parents and kids are traumatized. He came home to see police storming his property.

“I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ My parents live here, my kids live here. Two officers approached me at gunpoint, with their lights on and told me to get on the ground or they were going to shoot me,” Potts said.

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Fort Saskatchewan RCMP said they received a report of a possible kidnapping.

RCMP said the complainants got a text from their son saying he needed $1,500 and was being threatened with a gun to his head and a knife to his stomach.

Similar texts were received by other family members. The RCMP’s major crimes unit was sent out to find the “reported” victim.

After an investigation, two separate houses were searched by Edmonton Police Service tactical and RCMP emergency response teams. The victim wasn’t found at either of the homes — but rather, at a third location. They were safe and not kidnapped, as the text indicated.

RCMP communications Cpl. Troy Savinkoff said police will handle each call on a situational basis.

“They are taking into account many different factors, including the immediate risks that are happening to that victim. In this case, a person who was reported to be kidnapped with a gun to their head, they’re going to do what is necessary to ensure the police’s safety or the individuals that were involved safety,” Savinkoff said.

Savinkoff said police officers felt they were going to a house with armed individuals who were holding somebody hostage.

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“There were a lot of victims with this, we are looking at false allegations that were made, and a lot of people were put out by it.”

Criminologist and former EPS officer Dan Jones said he is surprised this was the first interaction the family had with police.

“When you get a complaint like this, what happens is you do a detain and call out. You make sure no one can leave the house without being detected, and then you start communications with the individuals inside the house,” Jones said.

“Tactical entry is the last thing to do you, unless you know there is immediate harm.”

Jones said he hopes RCMP follow up and make sure the family’s mental health is taken care of.

“You’re supposed to be in your home — it’s the safest space to be — and all of sudden your door gets kicked in and this is happening?” Jones said.

Potts said he is heartbroken his children were treated like criminals, and disappointed almost a week later he has no answers on how this could happen to innocent people.

“All I saw were tyrants dressed up in military uniforms with what looked like automatic weapons, holding innocent children hostage, and my parents at gunpoint and being rude and ignorant and just completely unprofessional. This is not what we would expect from the people who are supposed to protect and serve,” Potts said.

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“I am just disgusted with the police, thoroughly disgusted. My heart actually breaks for all these kids.”

Potts said RCMP haven’t talked to them about mental supports but did give him a number to file a claim for damage to his doors, but RCMP wouldn’t confirm if they would for sure cover the cost.

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