(Advocate file photo).

RCMP officers cleared in fatal shooting near Bashaw

ASIRT concluded they used “reasonable force” under the circumstances

RCMP officers who shot and killed a 37-year-old man near Bashaw three years ago have been cleared of wrong-doing by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

The agency found the officers’ use of lethal force was reasonable as the suspect had created a risk that was “both serious and immediate.”

On the morning of Oct. 19, 2017, three RCMP members approached a parked truck that matched the licence plate of a vehicle reported stolen from the Keyera Nevis Gas Plant.

According to the report, the uniformed officers found a man who appeared asleep in the driver’s seat of the truck parked on Range Road 235, south of Highway 11.

After observing a used syringe in the cab, one of the officers opened the driver’s door, touched the man and told him he was under arrest.

The suspect resisted and tried to get the vehicle in gear. A physical struggle ensued.

Two officers jumped out of the way when the truck was put into reverse, but the third officer was trapped and dragged by the vehicle.

As the truck lurched backward, smashing into the marked RCMP vehicle, the officer who was still trapped by the truck’s door “believed he was going to fall or get pulled underneath … and be seriously injured or killed.”

The report states that all three officers yelled for the driver to halt, but he did not.

As the truck continued pushing the police cruiser backwards, a police officer in front of the vehicle was reportedly unable to see his colleague’s upper body.

“Fearing for the officer’s life and safety, he fired three rounds from his carbine.”

As the trapped officer managed to finally push himself away from the vehicle to avoid getting caught underneath the truck’s wheels, “the third officer also fired a round from his service pistol,” states the report.

The stolen truck eventually crashed through a farmer’s cattle gate. The officers found the suspect with a critical head injury, but still alive.

They cared for him until he was taken by STARS air ambulance to an Edmonton hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the report.

The agency found the suspect’s actions “gave rise to a risk of grievous bodily harm or death to the officer,” and said the members fired as a last resort.

Under the Criminal Code, police officers can use reasonable force to defend themselves or another person.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team independently investigates incidents involving Alberta’s police that result in serious injury or death, as well as allegations of misconduct.

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