The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says Calgary officers involved in a residential shootout last year that saw a constable badly injured acted reasonably and were justified in their actions.
ASIRT was called in to investigate after a robbery suspect was found dead in a burned-out garage in the community of Abbeydale after being pursued by police.
The incident began to unfold just before 9:30 a.m. on March 27, 2018.
Police rushed to the northeast Calgary community for reports of an armed convenience store robbery, two attempted carjackings and a break-in – all within 20 minutes of each other.
Officers tracked the suspect to a detached garage in the 100 block of Abingdon Way Northeast, but were shot at as they approached the structure.
A report from ASIRT released on Wednesday stated the glass window of the garage appeared to be broken and had smoke coming from it. One of the officers saw a muzzle flash from window and heard gunshots.
“The two officers returned fire towards the garage window. One of the officers estimated he had fired approximately eight rounds when he saw his partner fall to the ground and yell that he had been ‘hit,’” the report stated.
Const. Jordan Forget, a five-year member of the CPS, was rushed to hospital with critical injuries.
According to ASIRT, it was later determined that he had sustained a single gunshot wound that went through the left forearm, into his upper left chest and exited mid-back.
“After it exited the back, the bullet lodged between the officer’s back and his body armour,” ASIRT said. “The bullet was located on the front street where first aid had been initially administered.”
According to the police watchdog, three CPS officers fired their guns during the incident, including Forget.
“It is remarkable how quickly the incident became a matter of life or death for these officers,” ASIRT stated Wednesday. “Only 19 seconds after they reported hearing glass break, both officers were in a gunfight with the man inside the garage. A mere 11 seconds later, it was communicated that one of the officers had been shot and EMS was needed immediately.”
“Prior to the man firing on the officers, there had been no communication. There was no opportunity to negotiate or de-escalate.”
Police surrounded the garage, which was on fire. ASIRT said sporadic gunfire continued to from the garage over the next 55 minutes.
Eventually, police used an armored vehicle to open the door of the garage. ASIRT said by that time, the building was fully engulfed in flames.
“At this point, the Calgary Fire Department was able to put out the fire,” ASIRT explained.
After the fire was extinguished, officers entered the structure and found the suspect’s remains along with a sawed-off bolt action rifle.
An autopsy showed the man died from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and a toxicology report found he had methamphetamine in his system.
“The man, armed with a firearm and barricaded inside a building, presented a real risk of death to the officers and others in the immediate area,” ASIRT concluded. “This risk was not merely theoretical: the man shot one officer, causing grievous bodily harm, and endangered the lives of numerous other officers.”
“While the shots fired by the officers in response to the man’s actions ultimately did not cause his death, those officers were justified in using any force necessary, including potentially lethal force, to protect their lives and the lives of other officers.”