Judge will not review Crown’s decision in fatal police shooting at Calgary hotel

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Anthony Heffernan is shown in a family handout photo. The parents of a man shot dead by Calgary police have lost a bid to have a judicial review of the decision not to lay charges in the case.

CALGARY — The parents of a man shot dead by police have lost a bid for a judicial review of a decision not to lay charges.

Anthony Heffernan was holding a syringe and a lighter when a Calgary officer shot him four times — twice in the head — in a hotel room in March 2015. Police had been called in after the 27-year-old failed to check out of his room.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team initially found there were grounds to charge the officer with a criminal offence.

The Crown later determined a conviction was unlikely and no charges would be laid.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Henderson dismissed the application of Pat and Irene Heffernan for a review. The judge said there was no evidence suggesting an abuse of process by the Crown.

“The applicants have understandably suffered a significant loss and nothing in this decision is intended to minimize the extent of their grief,” Henderson said in a written decision this week.

“The Crown’s decision deserves deference. A reviewing court is specifically prohibited from micro-managing or second-guessing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

The parents’ lawyer Tom Engel said Wednesday that he won’t be appealing the decision.

They will wait and see what happens with the police force’s internal disciplinary process, as well as a fatality inquiry. The family has also filed a civil suit.

“If new evidence comes out of these processes in the future, we can always go back and try again to see if we can get a judge to review the Crown’s decision not to prosecute,” Engel said.

“The Heffernans are determined to ensure that these officers are held accountable.”

Heffernan appeared to be in a drug-induced state when officers arrived that day and he refused demands to drop the syringe.

One officer fired a Taser at Heffernan but it didn’t work. A second officer was preparing to hit Heffernan again with the stun gun, when another officer fired his gun six times.

Four bullets struck Heffernan, one hit a wall and one hit the floor.

The serious incident response team reported that the syringe — without a needle tip — was recovered from underneath Heffernan’s body. An autopsy found marks consistent with a history of intravenous drug use and toxicology tests revealed cocaine in his system.

His family had argued that the officer fired recklessly and wildly. They also pointed out that four other officers in the room did not find it necessary to use lethal force.

The Crown told the court that it had considered all evidence in the shooting, including that Heffernan was agitated and had moved quickly at the officers. The Crown also said it was reasonable for officers to believe a needle was attached to the syringe and could have caused serious injury.

The force last May, after six fatal police shootings over two years, announced an independent review of its use of lethal force.

Just Posted

Canyon Ski Resort season wraps up Sunday

Central Alberta skiers and snowboarders only have a couple more days to… Continue reading

Future space crunch is feared, as no new schools for Red Deer are in the budget

Only local modernization will be at Father Lacombe Catholic School in Lacombe

A million dollars for Red Deer hospital is not nearly enough, says Mayor Veer

Mayor is concerned Red Deer hospital is still not on province’s five-year capital list

No drug treatment centre, or additional shelter beds for Red Deer

But Red Deer will get more affordable housing and sustained capital funding

Hit and run adjourned to April

Crash into Papa Baldy’s Pizza

WATCH: Hundreds come to Red Deer Rebels Fan Fest

The Red Deer Rebels met with legions of their of fans just… Continue reading

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide guilty of influence peddling

OTTAWA — Canada’s highest court has upheld an influence peddling conviction against… Continue reading

2 killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

PARIS — An armed man took hostages in a supermarket in southern… Continue reading

READER PHOTO: Red Deer students celebrate Canadian courage at Juno Beach

Teenagers from Red Deer’s Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School are learning about… Continue reading

UN report: Loss of plants, animals making a lonelier planet

WASHINGTON — New United Nations scientific reports diagnose that Earth is getting… Continue reading

Excavator frees dolphins trapped by pack ice in Newfoundland harbour

HEARTS DELIGHT, N.L. — A pod of dolphins trapped by pack ice… Continue reading

Structure fire destroys home in Mirror

A house in Mirror is completely damaged due to an overnight structure… Continue reading

Trudeau warns senators not to thwart will of Canadians on marijuana bill

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reminding senators that his government… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month