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Nova Scotia police watchdog clears officer who fatally shot Truro man in 2019

The waiting area of the Serious Incident Response Team, the province’s independent police watchdog agency, is seen in Halifax on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.
The waiting area of the Serious Incident Response Team, the province’s independent police watchdog agency, is seen in Halifax on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

After a year-long review, Nova Scotia’s police watchdog cleared an RCMP officer who fatally shot a man during a 2019 incident in Truro, N.S.

That incident, which began as a stolen vehicle investigation and ended with a seriously injured police officer and dead suspect, happened Aug. 10, 2019.

At the time, police said officers were investigating a stolen vehicle in Cumberland County, when the vehicle was spotted at approximately 2:30 a.m., in Truro, N.S.

Read more: Police watchdog investigating after RCMP officer injured, man fatally shot in Truro, N.S.

Global News reported an RCMP officer on patrol was reportedly struck by the car on Willow Street as the officer attempted to stop the vehicle.

The officer then opened fire on the car, striking the driver who was pronounced dead at the scene.

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No one else was in the vehicle and police said no one else was injured in the incident.

The identity of the suspect was not made public out of respect for their family, police said.

Click to play video 'Writer and activist Desmond Cole on new book and Santina Rao SiRT investigation' Writer and activist Desmond Cole on new book and Santina Rao SiRT investigation
Writer and activist Desmond Cole on new book and Santina Rao SiRT investigation – Feb 14, 2020

The Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) started investigating the incident the next day.

According to Tuesday’s SiRT report, the officer did not remember why he fired his weapon due to the head injury he sustained. However, the report says witness testimony provided an insight into what happened.

SiRT says a policy for RCMP officers allows them to fire their weapon in order to protect themselves or another person from death or bodily harm.

The policy does not allow shooting at a vehicle or any of its occupants unless the officer has reasonable grounds to believe it is necessary to protect any person including themselves.

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However, it says shooting at a vehicle is permitted if the vehicle is being purposely used as a weapon.

Read more: Investigation underway after man shot by Halifax police officer: SiRT

The suspect drove into the officer causing him to land on the hood and then speeding off with the officer still on the hood of the vehicle, according to the report.

“The (suspect’s) actions clearly demonstrate that the (suspect) intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm to the (officer),” the report says.

The report says the officer was holding on to the driver seat wiper when he fired his weapon 12 times, hitting the suspect seven or eight times. The report says two shots were fatal.

“Accordingly, the (officer’s) use of force was justified and not excessive. Therefore, there are no grounds for any charges against the (officer),” the report concluded.