Edmonton police officer cleared of wrongdoing in 2017 shooting

Nineteen months after a young man was shot by Edmonton police during an arrest, Alberta’s police watchdog has ruled the officer who pulled the trigger acted reasonably in the circumstances.

The 22-year-old suspect “presented a risk of grievous bodily harm or death to both officers and the use of lethal force was both reasonable and justified,” the Alberta Serious Incident Response team ruled Friday.

Earlier this year, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for the suspect, whom Edmonton police said they consider to be “armed and dangerous,” in connection with a 2019 carjacking.

Watch below: (From October 2017) A person was shot by police Tuesday night after allegedly ramming a police vehicle in southwest Edmonton. ASIRT is investigating.

At 9:23 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2017, police were informed about possible drug activity near 44 Avenue and 211 Street. ASIRT said police were told there were three vehicles in the area and people walking around between them.

“Officers responded and planned to use their police vehicles to block in the suspect vehicles,” ASIRT said in a news release. “Two of the police vehicles were unmarked, and one was marked. All were equipped with emergency lighting.”

When officers got to the scene, ASIRT said they turned on their emergency lights and one of the people who had been milling about yelled “police,” causing the others to scatter and one of the vehicles to drive away before police could box it in.

“Two of the police vehicles tried to block in one of the remaining two vehicles, a black BMW, blocking it in from both the front and the rear,” the police watchdog said. “Once the rear police vehicle stopped, the two officers exited out the driver and passenger doors.

“As they exited, the 22-year-old man driving the BMW put it in motion and intentionally rammed the front police vehicle.”

ASIRT said the ramming wasn’t enough to help the driver escape so he “reversed and forcefully rammed the rear police vehicle in an apparent attempt to escape.”

“This caused the parked rear police vehicle to be forcefully moved backwards. As it did, the passenger’s door of the police vehicle struck the officer and knocked him to the ground, where he was no longer visible to the officer who had exited the driver side of the vehicle.”

ASIRT found the BMW kept on ramming the rear police vehicle when “the officer on the driver side, having observed the other officer get struck by the door and taken to the ground — potentially underneath one or both vehicles — fired his service pistol at the driver of the BMW.”

According to ASIRT, the officer who fired the shot had his foot run over by the BMW as it was going backwards. He kept firing his gun until he heard the BMW engine stop revving. At that point, ASIRT said the BMW was stuck in a ditch and police were able to arrest the driver, after which they found a gun in the back of the vehicle.

The driver was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to his shoulder. A bullet also grazed his neck. The officer whose foot was run over suffered a knee injury.

“In the course of his attempt to evade apprehension, the driver of the BMW used that vehicle as a weapon,” ASIRT concluded. “In the course of doing so, the driver caused one officer to be struck by the door of the police vehicle and pushed to the ground, where he faced considerable risk of grievous bodily harm or death.

“Having watched this, and not knowing whether that officer might have fallen in the path of one or both of the moving vehicles, the other officer fired his service pistol at the driver of the BMW.”

In clearing the officer who fired his gun, ASIRT cited section 25 of the Criminal Code which outlines how much force officers can use when carrying out their lawful duties.

“As such, there are no reasonable grounds, nor even reasonable suspicion, to believe that the officer committed any Criminal Code offence,” ASIRT said. “The officers were lawfully placed and acting in the lawful execution of their duties, and the use of force was reasonable in the circumstances.

“As such, no charges are appropriate.”

ASIRT is called on to investigate incidents involving Alberta law enforcement agencies that result in serious injury or death, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.

Everett Lovell White was charged with 22 offences in connection with the incident.

In February 2019, police issued a public plea for help to find White, who they said was armed and dangerous and the prime suspect in a carjacking earlier that month.

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