An investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has found Edmonton police were permitted to use “as much force as was reasonably necessary” in the takedown of a suspect during a homicide investigation in the fall of 2016.
ASIRT executive director Susan D. Hughson said Wednesday police will not face charges in the arrest, which involved officers using physical restraint and a conducted energy weapon (commonly referred to as a Taser) on the suspect.
Shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2016, police were responding to a stabbing in the area of Fox Drive and Fort Edmonton Park Road when they saw a shirtless man wandering on Fox Drive. Police said the man appeared to be agitated and possibly under the influence.
As police approached the man, he tried to run away and fell down an embankment into some trees.
Officers were able to capture the man with the help of the police helicopter and a police service dog. ASIRT said police used force to gain control of the man, including physical restraint and a Taser.
Paramedics treated the suspect and took him to hospital with a collapsed lung. The suspect, Connor James Miller, was later charged with second-degree murder in Christopher Fawcett’s death. Fawcett, 19, was found dead at the scene that night. He died of stab wounds.
Miller was also charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest.
In her decision, Hughson said the suspect was physically resisting officers, non-compliant with their commands and made continued efforts to flee.
“On the basis of the information available to them, the officers were lawfully entitled to detain and later arrest the man,” read a media release sent by ASIRT on Wednesday.
“As such, the officers were permitted to use as much force as was reasonably necessary in the lawful execution of their duties. While the man’s condition was serious, it was largely due to the man’s ingestion of illicit substances. It’s also difficult to exclude the man’s initial fall off the embankment as the cause of his injury.
“Even if the force used was the cause of the man’s injury, it was no more than what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances.”
ASIRT is brought in to investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.