The president of Calgary’s police association is condemning Alberta’s police watchdog for not releasing the name of the man who opened fire on Calgary police officers in the northeast community of Abbeydale on March 27.
The Alberta Serious Response Team (ASIRT) took over the investigation into the death of a man who confined himself to a neighbourhood garage, which was eventually fully engulfed in flames, after shooting at police.
Const. Jordan Forget was injured in the shooting, which began when officers were called to a convenience store robbery turned attempted-break-in and attempted-carjacking. Forget has since been released from hospital and is recovering at home.
“He was shooting up a neighbourhood,” Les Kaminski said on Friday.
“He put that neighbourhood at great risk so there’s going to be massive public interest in this fellow because he so blatantly jeopardized public safety. Had some of those shots been errant, he could have killed an innocent bystander.”
On Friday, ASIRT said it would not be releasing the identity of the man suspected of shooting Forget.
“As a matter of policy, ASIRT generally does not release the name of the deceased in cases like this,” the agency said in an emailed statement.
According to its website, the names of “affected persons” — a term used to describe someone seriously injured or killed as a result of police actions — are generally not released as part of a “long-standing policy.”
Kaminski said he understands ASIRT’s reasoning when it comes to victims of homicide, but thinks the policy should be changed to reflect the fact that the man in question was a suspect in a crime spree before shooting a police officer.
He also said there’s an argument to be made that Calgarians should know about the situation, considering the impact it had on the community. Residents were asked to take cover while police tried to find the suspect, until he was found dead and the situation was brought under control. Several road closures were also in place for much of the day.
“ASIRT has preached they want to be fully transparent and fair. Well, there’s no fairness and transparency in this. He’s clearly a dangerous, violent offender and they’re protecting him like he’s some sort of a victim,” Kaminski said.
Kaminski added that for Calgary police officers, it’s upsetting to see ASIRT protecting the man’s name.
“Quite frankly, when a police officer is charged in the execution of their duties as a police officer alleged to have committed a crime, they will quickly release that name with no regard at all for that person’s family,” he said. “Then they turn around and say, ‘We’re protecting this person’s family,’ but this guy is not a victim. Had he survived this he would have been charged with some very serious offences.”
An autopsy on the man who died in the garage is still ongoing, the Calgary Police Service confirmed on Friday.
In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General said cases that are in the hands of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) are protected by privacy laws.
“This means the OCME is unable to share information regarding cases it is investigating or has investigated — including medical examiner reports (which list Cause, Manner and date of death) — to anyone except for the next of kin, and, in certain circumstances, interested third parties such as the police, Crown prosecution, a hospital involved with the deceased or other agencies such as the Child and Youth Advocate.”