ASIRT clears Calgary police officer of wrongdoing after firing gun during 2018 Martindale incident

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has been called in following a police shooting on Sept. 24, 2018. Doug Vaessen/Global News

Alberta’s police watchdog has completed an investigation into a 2018 incident that saw a Calgary Police Service officer fire a gun at a driver who nearly hit them.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team found there were “no reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed” when an officer fired his sidearm at a truck driving erratically at him or his female officer partner.

While on patrol at around 11:30 p.m. on Sep. 24, 2018, the two police officers travelling in the same vehicle ran a check on the plates of a white GMC truck they came across and determined it was stolen. They followed the truck but decided not to pull it over while they waited for backup. They briefly lost sight of it but then found it parked in front of the driveway of a Martindale home.

When the officers left their vehicle, addressing themselves as police, the driver of the truck raised his hands briefly.

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According to the ASIRT report, the driver then started the truck and drove it onto the driveway before quickly reversing.

A parked vehicle prevented a female officer from moving away from the truck as it backed up.

“The (driver) then drove toward (the female officer) until he was approximately 18 inches away from her,” ASIRT assistant executive director Matthew Block wrote in his report of the incident.

ASIRT said the exact sequence of the next events weren’t exactly clear, but believed the driver backed up again, clipped the police vehicle, drove onto the lawns of adjacent houses and collided with a garage.

Click to play video: 'ASIRT investigating late night shooting, police pursuit through northeast Calgary'
ASIRT investigating late night shooting, police pursuit through northeast Calgary

After hitting the garage, the driver spun around and drove out of the area.

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The female officer heard gunshots while trying to avoid the driver. She saw the male officer on the driveway next to the garage the truck hit.

Five bullet casings were found in the immediate vicinity.

Evidence markers circled in yellow indicating bullet casings, found following a Sep. 2018 incident that had a CPS officer fire his weapon. handout / ASIRT

The male officer who fired radioed that “he has rammed a house, hit our car and, ah, I have shots fired — I hit a tire on the way” and “he pulled ahead of us into the driveway and when he was trying to, yeah, basically back out of there, he hooked or clipped the front corner of our car and then he drove through the side of a garage at another house here and then drove at me,” the ASIRT report said.

ASIRT’s investigation relied on evidence at the scene and an interview with the female officer. The officer who fired his gun did not provide a statement to investigators — as was his right as the subject of a criminal investigation — nor did the driver of the truck. The police vehicle’s video camera was not recording. It is usually triggered by police emergency lights which were not on at the time.

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Evidence at the scene matched what the female officer told the police watchdog.

An investigation of the area and the truck only found shots hitting the front passenger tire of the truck – the tire was missing and only the rim remained.

ASIRT said the driver of the truck was “clearly not following police directions and was driving in a way that risked hitting one of the officers and causing serious injury or death.”

“While he did not hit (the female officer), it is not clear why,” ASIRT said. “He was driving very erratically, and apparently unable to avoid hitting a garage.

“He was a serious risk to the officers on foot around him.”

Click to play video: 'How long is too long? ASIRT investigations taking years to resolve'
How long is too long? ASIRT investigations taking years to resolve

ASIRT said there was “some evidence” the officer fired his weapon “in response to (the driver) driving at him.”

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ASIRT found the officer used proportionate force at a vehicle that was driving dangerously and had the potential to hit and harm the officer.

Given the “dynamic nature” of the situation – a vehicle driving erratically at an officer on foot – ASIRT found the officer’s response was necessary and reasonable.

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