WATCH ABOVE: Alberta’s justice minister is coming under fire for not commenting on this weekend’s RCMP shooting. Michel Boyer explains.
EDMONTON – Nothing could have been done to prevent the shooting of two St. Albert RCMP officers, the top Mountie in Alberta said Tuesday.
“The encounter with the suspect was – and what resulted – was unexpected,” said Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan.
“[Wynn] came across this truck, the licence plate didn’t match the description of the truck… It was reported stolen. He went into the casino to review video surveillance to try to determine if he could identify the driver. Aux. Const. Bond was sent in to assist him in the review of that videotape.”
Ryan said the shooting happened “very quickly.”
“It was essentially an intersection of the two parties. The suspect intersected with our two members.”
If the officers had seen the suspect approaching, they would have had more time to react, she added. She stressed that Bond, as an unarmed, auxiliary constable, wasn’t intentionally put in a dangerous situation.
“Again, in this particular case — the predictability of this incident, and doing anything different to protect our officers — I don’t think there was anything we could have done.”
Global News requested an interview with Ryan, but was told she would not be available. RCMP Insp. Gibson Glavin confirmed the contents of the CBC interview.
Ryan explained she continually reviews training, equipment and whether officers are given the best resources possible. She believes they are.
“I lose sleep at night about our members’ safety.”
Meanwhile, many are asking why the suspect, Shawn Maxwell Rehn, was not in jail.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson blames the justice system for releasing Rehn, a violent career criminal who was awaiting trial when he died.
“That’s the accountability I’m seeking,” Paulson wrote in a statement to Global News.
“When an offender has a demonstrated pattern of not attending court and not complying with orders he needs to be (h)eld!”
Documents show that Rehn was released on bail as recently as Sept. 13, 2014. He faced 15 charges at the time, including possessing stolen property, possessing a controlled substance, possessing a prohibited firearm and escaping lawful custody.
Rehn, 34, had a lengthy rap sheet of close to 60 convictions dating back to 1999, including break and enter, assault with a weapon, theft, and gun charges.
“I share our commissioner’s frustration,” said Ryan. “It’s an extraordinary criminal record.”
She said the RCMP will conduct a review to identify any gaps in the system, meet with justice officials and discuss whether anything could have been done to prevent the shooting.
Global News has reached out to Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis multiple times for comment on this case. We are waiting for a response.
On Tuesday, Wildrose justice critic Shayne Saskiw said it’s time for Denis to address the issue.
“I think it would be important for the justice minister to attempt to reassure Albertans that our justice system isn’t going to fail like this in the future.
“It would be nice to see him show leadership for once on this, go out in the public and reassure Albertans that, in the future, if people commit heinous crimes, they’ll be put behind bars for a long time.”
When it comes to Rehn’s criminal history, the president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association said there are two separate issues to look at: his convictions and his outstanding charges.
“The courts have to do a balancing when they’re faced with an individual before them who’s looking to be released,” said Shannon KC Prithipaul. “They have to remember that that person is presumed innocent… we have to look at the risk to the public… and the strength of the Crown’s case.”
“When we start to look at why is he still around? ‘Why was he walking around?’ as the officer said — which, those kinds of comments I would respectfully suggest are quite inflammatory. They bring up this idea that the justice system has failed somehow. I would say it hasn’t.
“If we’ve failed some way, it’s collectively. I would say it’s because someone ought to have intervened with this individual a lot earlier. And jail clearly wasn’t working.”
Prithipaul said it’s obvious there was a problem, but cautioned against placing the blame squarely on the justice system, rather than looking at other influences, including the education system and health system.
“We clearly failed because someone should have intervened earlier.”
She believes resources like drug treatment court and mental health court may help prevent situations like this in the future.
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