Alberta’s police watchdog has determined the actions of Edmonton police on Sept. 9, 2017, which led to the shooting death of a 30-year-old suspect they were trying to arrest outside Westmount Mall, were justified.
In a news release on Monday, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said the 30-year-old man was the subject of a meth trafficking investigation. EPS officers had a search warrant for a residence connected to him, but they wanted to attempt to arrest him either on foot or while in a vehicle because they had information he had firearms.
One day after the warrant was issued, surveillance located the suspect and EPS tactical section was called in, ASIRT said. Officers were told about the man’s criminal history, grounds for arrest, possession of firearms and that he had “previously engaged in criminal flight from police on an unrelated investigation.”
The suspect was followed in a white Mercedes-Benz sedan, which he was driving along with two female passengers, to the parking lot at Westmount Mall.
“He was seen carrying a black, satchel-style bag consistent with where police had been told he might be carrying a firearm,” ASIRT said.
“Having satisfied themselves that there were no persons in the immediate vicinity, the decision was made that it would be better to attempt to apprehend the man at this location before he had an opportunity to engage in a criminal flight,” the ASIRT release said.
Once the man backed into a parking spot, officers in unmarked vehicles — but with their emergency lights activated — boxed in the Mercedes. There were vehicles in front of, behind and on the passenger side of the suspect vehicle.
Tactical section officers got out of their vehicles. Two flash bangs were deployed. Officers identified themselves as police and ordered the three people inside to show their hands and slowly exit the vehicle, ASIRT said.
The police watchdog said all three people showed their hands but didn’t leave the vehicle.
After about 20 seconds, “the man was seen shaking his head before he dropped his hands and placed the Mercedes in reverse, ramming the police truck at the rear of the Mercedes. The Mercedes then accelerated forward and rammed the police vehicle in front, with sufficient force that the driver’s side airbag went off.”
Officers deployed two canisters of CS gas and again boxed the Mercedes in.
As one officer started taking the woman out of the front passenger seat, ASIRT said the man “accessed the black satchel-style bag around his neck and retrieved the handgun.”
One officer shouted: “Don’t do it!” several times. Another officer deployed an ARWEN baton round that hit the man but didn’t disarm him.
“The man raised his handgun and pointed it directly toward one of the nearest officers, resulting in that officer and two others discharging their firearms,” ASIRT said.
“The evidence is unequivocal that the man fired two rounds from his handgun, from the inside of the vehicle through the dash of the Mercedes. As it appeared that the man again pointed his handgun at an officer, one of the officers fired what would be a lethal shot. Following this shot, the man was observed to slump over in the vehicle.”
A Tactical Emergency Medical Support paramedic examined the man immediately but determined he was dead.
The two women, both 18 years old, were not hurt.
An autopsy on the man determined he had meth in his system and that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.
“In the face of overwhelming odds, when it should have been clear to the man that he would be taken into custody and that surrender was the only viable option, the man pulled and pointed a loaded gun at police,” ASIRT said, while outlining its findings.
“Indeed, he went further and actually fired at police.
“Officers used many techniques and tools to attempt to apprehend the man without lethal force, including the flash bangs, CS gas, and an ARWEN launcher, only resorting to lethal force when the man escalated the situation by producing his firearm. At that point, if not before, the man’s conduct clearly presented a risk of grievous bodily harm or death to the officers,” the agency said.
“This risk was not merely theoretical, as evidenced by the fact that the man discharged two rounds in the direction of a police officer, presenting a substantial and immediate threat to his life. In the circumstances, the decision by the three officers to resort to lethal force, while tragic, was justified.”
Susan Hughson, ASIRT executive director, reviewed the evidence and investigation and said Monday there were no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed by a police officer. She said no charges would be laid.
Friends previously identified the man shot by police as Matt Dumas.
They told Global News he was “a really good guy” who became “troubled,” “got into some addictions and it spiraled.”
WATCH (Sept. 10, 2017): Gunfire broke out in Westmount on Saturday night as police tried to arrest a man wanted on outstanding warrants. Now, family and friends have identified the man killed and they say he was troubled. Julia Wong reports. WARNING: Some people may find this video disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.