Manitoba police watchdog wraps up self-inflicted gunshot investigation citing lack of evidence

The Independent Investigation Unit is closing a file related to a Mountie's alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound, citing a near-total lack of evidence. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lee Brown

A near-complete absence of information has put the brakes on an investigation into a Manitoba Mountie’s alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the officer told investigators he accidentally shot himself in the foot while goose hunting near Grunthal, Man., in September 2019.

However, he didn’t alert the watchdog until three months later, and only after RCMP management learned of the situation and ordered further investigation.

“For all intents, this investigation ended almost as soon as it began,” said Zane Tessler, civilian director of the IIU, in his final report, noting the investigation was “fraught with difficulties and a dearth of information from the outset.”

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“If not for the diligence of senior RCMP management, who discovered the oversight of the delayed notification and took immediate steps to rectify the matter, IIU would never have known of this matter.”

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The IIU says witness officers didn’t make any notes of their interaction with the subject officer, nor did they pursue an investigation.

While the officers told investigators the weapon used in the incident was a shotgun, the report says the actual firearm was never identified, inspected or seized.

A potential eyewitness was never identified because no one bothered to record their name or contact information, and a relevant phone call between an investigating officer and the subject wasn’t recorded either.

“If it were not for the attendance of EMS personnel, the fact that SO (subject officer) suffered an injury would have been unknown,” Tessler writes in the report.

Additionally, the Mountie in question refused to be interviewed or disclose his medical records, meaning the actual nature and extent of his injuries will likely never be substantiated.

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The only clear evidence the officer suffered an injury at all came in the original report, in which attending officers noted he was was being treated by paramedics for an injured foot when they arrived and had a bandage over his big toe.

In closing his report, Tessler writes, “We anticipate that senior RCMP management will deal with the issues identified in this report that effectively rendered this investigation null.”

With no avenues left to pursue, the IIU considers the case closed.

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