'Extreme situation': RCMP justified in shooting gunman on QEII in 2020, says ASIRT

“He then stopped, pointed a shotgun at (an officer), and fired. The subject officers reacted to this by firing at the affected person over eight seconds, killing him.”

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RCMP officers were justified in shooting a man who led police on a chase down a busy highway and opened fire on an officer seconds before dying in a hail of gunfire, Alberta’s police watchdog has concluded.

The unidentified 27-year-old man died on May 6, 2020, after pulling a shotgun on Mounties following a wrong-way police chase down Queen Elizabeth II Highway near Leduc. The man was involved in a shooting earlier that day that seriously wounded a woman in Blackfalds.

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Matthew Block, assistant director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), said the five officers directly involved in the shooting acted reasonably.

“The affected person fled from police and was pursued along Highway 2. He risked the lives of ordinary users of the highway by travelling on the wrong side of this busy road,” he wrote in a report issued May 16.

“He then stopped, pointed a shotgun at (an officer), and fired. The subject officers reacted to this by firing at the affected person over eight seconds, killing him.”

“The subject officers’ actions were reasonable in this extreme situation.”

The events began around 9 a.m. =when the man fired a gun at police and a civilian in Blackfalds, 100 km south of Leduc. He then fled in a black BMW sedan. Police put out an alert to nearby detachments confirming the man was wanted for attempted murder.

Mounties eventually caught up with the suspect. When he noticed he was being followed, he sped up to 180 km/h in a 110 km/h zone. A few minutes later, he hit a police spike belt, destroying his tires. He crossed the median and began driving north in Highway 2’s southbound lane. Two RCMP vehicles got ahead of the disabled BMW while two more fell in behind.

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Alberta’s police watchdog issued a report on May 16, 2024, concluding RCMP officers were justified when they fatally shot a shotgun-wielding man on Queen Elizabeth II Highway near Leduc on May 6, 2020. The man is seen here in police dash cam footage exiting his vehicle with a shotgun. Supplied Photo/ASIRT edm

The driver struggled to control the car and eventually came to a stop near the Highway 2A overpass.

The man “immediately” exited his vehicle with a shotgun and pointed it at the Mountie behind him, ASIRT said. He fired at least two shots, striking the officer, the scope of the officer’s carbine and his cruiser’s windshield. RCMP said at the time the officer’s injuries were serious but non-life-threatening.

Block said that based on dash cam footage, the Mountie behind the suspect likely fired first, but that the deceased was already pointing his gun and fired a fraction of a second later.

ASIRT concluded the injured officer fired seven rounds from his carbine, while nearby officers fired a total of 11 rounds from their handguns. An autopsy determined the suspect suffered seven gunshot wounds and that he had been consuming cocaine, alcohol and marijuana before his death.

Block said the officers who shot the man were justified under Section 25 of the Criminal Code, which allows police to use “as much force as is necessary for the execution of their duties.”

gun photo
A semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun found at the scene of a shooting involving RCMP officers on Highway 2 May 6, 2020. The gun belonged to the suspect, who has not been identified. Supplied Photo/ASIRT edm

In cases where police use force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, the officer must have reasonable grounds to believe the force “is necessary for the self-preservation of the officer or … of anyone under that officer’s protection.”

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Block said the officers involved had “ample” information to conclude the man was a threat to the public.

“When the affected person exited his vehicle with a firearm, their duty to protect the lives of fellow police officers was also engaged. Their reaction to the affected person, who had already fired at other officers, was reasonable.”

The officers would also have been justified in shooting the man under Section 34 of the Criminal Code, which says killing or injuring someone is not a crime if the person acts in self defence, “if the act is reasonable in the circumstances,” Block said.

ASIRT is in charge of investigating cases where police kill or seriously injure members of the public, as well as serious allegations of police misconduct.

The agency has laid charges in 40 cases since 2015, according to its website.

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