Woman shot by police may have been suicidal, says common law husband

EDMONTON — The common-law husband of a woman shot by Edmonton police says she may have been suicidal.

EDMONTON — The common-law husband of a woman shot by Edmonton police says she may have been suicidal.

George Coward, 58, says Bernadette Auger was angry, but not a “violent” or “crazy” woman.

Auger, 48, was shot two times by police Saturday when she came out of her apartment building a second time with what Coward says was a toy gun.

Witnesses say police told the woman several times to drop the gun, which they believed to be real.

Coward says if Auger pointed the gun at the police, “she wanted to be shot,” because she knew it wasn’t real.

He said she had a history of talking about suicide, was on antidepressants and had short-term memory loss and disorientation after sustaining severe head trauma in a car crash eight years ago.

“Whatever made her go outside with this plastic gun, I’m not sure — I think she just decided that she wanted to go…

“I want the police to know they shouldn’t be blamed,” Coward said.

The trouble began the previous night, when Auger’s sons were partying in her suite while she and Coward were trying to sleep.

“She got up once, was mad at a couple of her boys,” he said.

Later that day, she saw two of her sons fighting over a video game. She overreacted, said Coward, and called police.

“I said that didn’t make sense, took phone from her and told them not to send anyone and hung up.”

But the 911 operator called back and said police would still have to check it out, he said.

When officers arrived, they found the woman wandering around the hallways with what appeared to be a gun, police said Saturday.

She led police to the back lane shortly after, where there was gunfire.

Coward remembered a black toy cap gun that was around the house.

“It would have looked like a real gun,” he said. “Why didn’t I throw out that plastic gun when I saw it?”

Frustrated by the 911 call, Coward said he and one of Auger’s sons left and went to a friend’s place nearby.

“The rest of my life it will be if, if, if. What if I had stayed and calmed her down?” he asked.

Auger had been very sick the last few days, Coward also said.

“She said her bones were sore, her body was tired. She just kept sleeping,” he said.

Auger was known to police prior to the incident, said Sgt. Tony Simioni, president of the Edmonton Police Association.

The couple planned to marry this summer, said Coward.

An investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team continues.

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