Police watchdog exonerates RCMP in Bonnington death

Officer’s shots were justified, report says

An independent investigation has exonerated an RCMP officer in a shooting that killed a man in Bonnington in February.

The report (attached below) of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) was released in October. The IIO is automatically called in when a police officer kills or injures someone.

The question before the IIO was whether the discharge of the officer’s firearm was “authorized, necessary and appropriate.” If it was not, the incident could lead to a charge of murder or manslaughter against the officer.

On Feb. 12, RCMP responded to a report of shots being fired in Bonnington. They located a pick-up truck they believed to be part of the incident, and, in a snowstorm in the dark, got involved in a chaotic scene described in some detail in the IIO report.

“As they approached the truck and engaged with its occupants,” the report states, “the female passenger exited and walked away. As she did so, she told the officers that the driver … had a gun. The driver reversed the truck, pulling [an officer] some distance before the officer fell to the ground. The truck drove backwards into a snow bank and stopped, but the driver was ‘revving’ the engine. The officer regained his feet and fired 11 rounds from his service firearm at the vehicle. One bullet struck [the driver] in the head, and he was later pronounced deceased.”

The report concluded the officer reasonably believed the driver was about to use the truck as a weapon and run him over.

“In these circumstances it was reasonable for [the officer], seeing the truck a short distance away, in forward gear with its engine revving, to fear that [the driver] was about to drive back at him, using the truck as a weapon to escape arrest. Based on what [the driver] had just done, in fact, that seems to be exactly what he was now trying to do. The threat was close, and the opportunity to evade it with any confidence on the slippery, snow-covered ground was minimal.”

The driver had a blood alcohol content of more than three times the driving limit, as well as positive tests for THC, cocaine and methamphetamine.

No details of the deceased man’s identity were ever released to the media or the public by the RCMP or the IIO.

The IIO report is attached below.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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