An Edmonton police officer injured during the 2015 shooting that killed Const. Daniel Woodall has transitioned into a new career on the other side of the law.
Jason Harley, a former sergeant with Edmonton Police Service (EPS), is six months into his new career as an articling student with Brownlee LLP, but his career as a police officer is never too far from his mind – in fact, Harley’s law firm at Commerce Place is mere blocks away from the EPS headquarters.
Harley was thrust into the spotlight June 8, 2015, when he and seven other police officers attempted to execute an arrest warrant, stemming from a hate crimes investigation, for Norman Raddatz at his west Edmonton house.
“When the time came for us to execute the warrant, he was well prepared to thwart law enforcement efforts and he began shooting through the door and through the walls of his home. I was standing next to Dan – we were together just at the door. I was standing right in front of him when the shooting started. I was hit once as I turned and Dan was struck several times.”
Woodall was killed; police chief Rod Knecht said, at the time, that none of the bullets hit Woodall’s vest.
Harley himself was shot in the lower back – he credits a bulletproof vest for saving his life.
“The vest actually grabbed the bullet so it didn’t go all the way through the vest. Otherwise the round would have gone clean through me and out the other side. It would have been a very different result,” he said.
Raddatz’s house was set on fire in the wake of the shooting; his body was later found inside. Harley, meanwhile, was off work for a month after the shooting.
“It was a very emotional time for everyone in the city. I know I appreciated, at the time, there was a great deal of support from my colleagues, from friends, family and even just the city at large there,” Harley said.
“It was a very emotional and confusing time. I think a lot of people were trying to figure out how to move forward.”
Harley said he knew Woodall but the pair had never worked together.
“From what I know of him now, it’s too bad that we didn’t get a chance to work together or get a chance to work more closely together. Obviously he’s a great policeman and a great person, and it’s a shame I didn’t get to know him better,” he said.
From police officer to law school
At the time of the shooting, Harley was actually in-between his first and second years of law school.
The police officer first contemplated law when he started his career with EPS and, as the years passed, he found he could not shake the idea.
Harley made the decision to pursue it full-time while he was sergeant of the southwest division.
For three years, Harley juggled a full-time career with EPS and a full-time law student schedule; he credits discipline, time management and support from his family, friends, colleagues and staff at the law school for getting him through that time.
Harley spent 17 years with EPS, holding positions in the south division station, communications operations section, child protection section, detective in the criminal investigations section, patrol sergeant at the southwest division and finished his career at the investigation management section.
His resignation from EPS took effect July 2, 2017 and since then, he’s been transitioning from life as a police officer to life in the legal profession.
“The work is not all that dissimilar. You’re dealing with people, you’re solving problems, you’re trying to find the best solution you can for the people,” he said.
While he thoroughly enjoys his new career and his colleagues, Harley said he misses policing “all the time.”
“I have a lot of great friends in EPS – you miss the people. You miss the stress of it, the fun of it, the camaraderie of it,” he said.
“It’ll never be the same, but again… it was time for me to transition. Overall, it’s been positive. I’m very happy to have made the move.”
Harley, who is rotating between the corporate commercial, litigation and municipal branches at Brownlee LLP for his first year, said he is most excited to grow as a lawyer.
“I guess the aspiration would be to… wherever I am, to have clients and even to cultivate new clients but to grow with them,” he said.
Even as he moves forward with his new chapter of his life, Harley is reflective and calls it “good fortune” that the eight officers who were on scene that day. He said the events of June 8, 2015 will always stick with him
“I am– to this day – convinced that based on our subject that day… he was planning something catastrophic. We managed to stop that from happening – that was Dan who did that. Who knows what the alternative might have been had we not been there that day,” Harley said.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. I think that’s the same for everyone who was there.”