Family of Calgary mother shot and killed by police question use of force

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WATCH: The family of a woman shot and killed by Calgary police this week is speaking out about her death. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, they want to raise awareness about injustice against Indigenous people – Jun 29, 2019

The family of a woman shot and killed by a Calgary police officer on Wednesday is demanding justice, saying their loved one didn’t need to die this way.

READ MORE: Woman dies after shooting involving Calgary police; ASIRT investigating

Family members have identified the woman who died on Monday as 34-year-old Robin Fiddler, a Calgary mother of three children.

“Robin was a very happy woman. She lit up the room,” said Robin’s cousin Angela Fiddler on Saturday.

On June 26 at around 6 a.m., police were called out to a home in the southeast community of Southview for a complaint about a suspicious person. Police say she was wandering in and out of several backyards in the area.

According to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, an officer had a brief conversation with the woman while still in the cruiser. That’s when ASIRT says the woman sprayed the officer with what’s believed to be pepper spray.

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WATCH: ASIRT investigating Calgary police fatal shooting

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ASIRT investigating Calgary police fatal shooting – Jun 26, 2019

Police say when the officer got out to arrest the woman, a struggle happened and the officer’s sidearm discharged. The woman was taken to hospital, where she later died. The officer, meanwhile, was treated by EMS. ASIRT says the aerosol container recovered on the scene was suspected to contain a form of pepper spray. It was wrapped in black tape with the label and contents obscured.

“We’ve always been such a tight-knit community and this tragedy doesn’t just affect the family, it affects the community and it also affects the world because the world is watching,” said Angela.

Robin’s family is from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, and her cousin wants to raise awareness that there are many historical factors that lead up to tragedies like this.

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“They should be having cultural awareness training for everybody. But not just to get a job, but to really understand where Indigenous people are coming from,” said Angela.

What police say

“This morning’s incident highlights the reality that there are no routine calls in policing,” CPS said in a news release on Wednesday. “When our officers respond to a call from the public in their time of need, we are driven by our common purpose of keeping our community safe. At times, this means officers find themselves at risk, needing to respond to a dynamic situation that unfolds in a blink of an eye.”

READ MORE: ASIRT investigates after woman falls from balcony, dies during attempted arrest in Calgary

Acting Deputy Chief Steve Barlow said police respond to more than 35,000 suspicious persons calls a year and some “unfold very, very quickly.

“The problem is that [a] non-lethal [weapon] — when you’re dealing with an officer who is carrying a firearm and if they became incapacitated, then we don’t know how that’s going to turn on us,” Barlow said on Wednesday.
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Robin Fiddler.
Robin Fiddler. Supplied by Facebook

Robin’s family say women in their community are encouraged to carry pepper spray for protection.

“I feel that Robin wouldn’t have used that unless she really had to,” said Dalanie Wahobin, Robin’s niece.

Her cousin Angela questions why the situation resulted in Robin being shot.

“The family is still trying to figure out how did this tragic situation come about? How is it that she had to die? I’m sure there were other methods they could’ve used,” Angela said.

“I am sure if there was a different method used to talk to Robin, none of this would’ve come out. Robin was never one to go out of her way to attack any people any person. She was never like that. She always wanted to help.”

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ASIRT’s investigation continues. A funeral is being planned for Robin near Meadow Lake, Sask.

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