Jen Henderson is a journalist breaking news in the capital region. She is a staff reporter at the St. Albert Gazette and  covers provincial and federal politics, crime and court. 

ASIRT clears Morinville RCMP of wrongdoing in 2015 shooting

An investigation has cleared the Morinville RCMP of wrongdoing in the May 22, 2015 shooting death of a man near Morinville.

A reported released on Friday follows an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT). The report concluded, “that the officers involved were acting lawfully and the use of force was reasonable and justified in all the circumstances.”

The 47-year-old man, who has not been named, was armed with two long-barrelled rifles at the time of the shooting.

Susan Hughson, ASIRT executive director, found no wrongdoing when the officers fired a single round at the suspect, who was armed with two long-barrelled rifles and who was described as a “troubled man.”

A family member who was concerned about their safety called Morinville RCMP officers to a rural home. The person reported that a male relative, who had a court order to stay away from the residence, was on the property and acting out of character.

At 7:33 p.m. four officers arrived at the house and started searching the property for the man. By 8:04 p.m. the man was still missing and the canine unit was called in to assist with the search.

While waiting for the canines to arrive the man was spotted in a nearby field.

The officers called out to the man who then yelled and picked up two long-barrelled guns, holding one in each hand. The suspect walked away and two officers ran towards a treeline in the field to try and maintain sight of the man, the report said.

“The officers continually communicated with the man attempting to de-escalate the situation, telling him he was under arrest, requesting he put down the guns and surrender,” the report said.

Once the officers arrived at the treeline, the man stopped and turned to face them. It appeared the man was loading one of the firearms.

The officer took refuge along a small clay berm, which only blocked the view of half of his body. He was aware that a bullet could penetrate through the small berm.

The man raised his firearm and pointed it at the Mountie and the officer fired a single round at the man, who then fell to the ground.

The officers on scene could see the man moving his arms and torso on the ground but were unable to determine the extent of his injuries or the location of the two firearms and whether the man could access them.

“The man was repeatedly asked to show his hands and move away from any firearms or crawl towards the officers so that medical assistance could be provided, but there was no response,” the report said.

The officers called in the aircrew and an armoured vehicle arrived on the scene and approached the man.

When the medical response team arrived they attempted to resuscitate the man, however he died at the scene.

The autopsy found the man died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen and toxicology found methamphetamine in his system.

The 47-year-old man had a troubled history with mental illness and conflict with the law and was supposed to be under psychiatric care at the time of his death.

“He had a documented history of psychotic and mood related behavioural issues and delusional thoughts for which his family had repeatedly sought help,” the report said. “Within the preceding year, the man had previously made comments that he would not be able to handle going to jail, that he hated police, and that he had had suicidal thoughts.”

Ms. Hughson extended her condolences to the family and friends of the deceased on behalf of ASIRT.

“The loss of a life is always a tragedy and this case was no exception,” the report said. “The troubled man had a family that loved him and had attempted to get him help for his mental health issues.”

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