Watchdog clears Edmonton police in August 2018 fatal shooting of man with rifle

Click to play video: 'Man dead in Edmonton police shooting' Man dead in Edmonton police shooting
WATCH (Aug. 19, 2018): Edmonton police said officers shot and killed a man Saturday night after a pursuit involving a reported stolen vehicle on the north end – Aug 19, 2018

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has determined that an Edmonton police officer’s use of lethal force during an Aug. 18, 2018 incident was “justified and reasonable.”

READ MORE: ASIRT investigating after driver of stolen car shot dead by Edmonton police

At about 9:40 p.m., the EPS received a report of a hit-and-run collision on Yellowhead Trail near 66 Street. Police checked the licence plate and realized the vehicle was stolen.

Officers found the vehicle near a small auto dealership just off Yellowhead Trail and 66 Street and, using an unmarked police vehicle with emergency police lights activated, tried to box in the stolen vehicle, ASIRT said.

The agency said two police officers wearing their EPS uniforms approached the vehicle, which had heavily tinted windows, and saw two men in the front seats of the vehicle.

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One officer approached the driver’s side; the second officer approached the passenger side. ASIRT said both officers “gave loud verbal commands for the occupants to exit the vehicle.”

The man in the passenger side got out with his hands up and lay down on the ground.

“This man later told ASIRT investigators that the driver had a gun in his lap and had told the passenger to get out of the vehicle,” the agency said in a news release Friday.

Click to play video: 'Surveillance video offers new glimpse into officer-involved shooting' Surveillance video offers new glimpse into officer-involved shooting
Surveillance video offers new glimpse into officer-involved shooting – Aug 20, 2018

An officer saw a long-barrelled firearm “in the man’s possession, pointed towards the passenger side of the vehicle,” ASIRT said.

“This officer yelled: ‘Gun, get back,’ at the other officer and commanded the man to drop the weapon. The man verbally refused, stating that he would not drop the gun, that officers would have to shoot him, and that he would shoot police.”

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ASIRT said the officer saw the man raise his gun, point it in the direction of the officer on the passenger side and, in response, the officer shot several rounds from his pistol “as the man fired a shot in the direction of the officer on the passenger side.”

EMS declared the man, 30-year-old Sterling Ross Cardinal, dead at the scene.

The firearm was a loaded, sawed-off .30-30-calibre lever-action rifle with one spent cartridge inside the chamber, ASIRT said.

READ MORE: Men involved in fatal confrontation with Edmonton police had a gun, were wanted on Canada-wide warrants: ASIRT

ASIRT said the deceased driver of the stolen vehicle was identified as a man who was unlawfully at large in relation to a federal prison sentence and was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant.

“An autopsy confirmed the man’s cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds. A toxicology report confirmed the presence of alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis in the man’s body.”

Edmonton police later said the passenger, 29-year-old Clifford Gladue, was charged with possession of stolen property, hit and run, disqualified driving, possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized and unlawfully at large.

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Clifford Gladue, 29, was one of Edmonton’s Most Wanted by Crime Stoppers on Aug. 19, 2018. Courtesy: Crime Stoppers

In its ruling, ASIRT explained a police officer is authorized to use as much force as is reasonably necessary to carry out their lawful duties, under the Criminal Code. An officer is entitled to use potentially lethal force if an officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that force is necessary to protect themselves or others from death or grievous bodily harm, the agency explained.

In its decision, ASIRT said the officers were acting within “the scope of their lawful duties… had reasonable grounds to believe that the men had committed an offence” and that the man “created a risk that was both potentially lethal and immediate.”

“When he actually fired upon that officer, the man demonstrated not just a theoretical risk but an actual real, substantial, and immediate threat to the officer’s life.

“In the face of this immediate and significant danger, the officer who fired his service weapon was lawfully justified in doing so in defence of himself and the second officer,” ASIRT said.

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The agency’s executive director, Susan Hughson, Q.C., determined the evidence does not provide reasonable grounds, nor even reasonable suspicion, to believe that the officer who fired committed an offence.

“The officer’s use of lethal force, which he resorted to only after the man failed to comply with commands and escalated the situation by raising his gun, and, ultimately, firing on police, was reasonable… The decision of the officer to fire his service weapon was lawful, justified and reasonably necessary.”

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