The family of a young man shot by Calgary police Tuesday says, if he survives, he may never walk or breathe again on his own.
Calgary police say two uniformed officers had been following up a missing persons complaint in the 2800 block of 12 Avenue southeast around 11 a.m. MT.
A citizen approached them and directed them to a suspicious vehicle that had been parked in the area since 6:30 a.m. with man sleeping inside and the engine running.
Chief Rick Hanson said officers approached the vehicle on each side and tried to talk with the driver. He said at some point the situation escalated when one officer was nudged by the pickup truck while attempting to drive away and the other officer discharged his firearm three times, hitting the 22-year-old driver in the neck.
The truck, which police say was stolen, then slammed into a house down the street. A man and boy were in the home, but were not injured.
The man remains in hospital in critical condition. His family has identified him as Matthew Jack Brown.
Brown recently spent time in jail for robbery and faces a trial in March for uttering threats and assaulting a peace officer.
His family says he has a bullet lodged in his neck that has damaged his vertebrae.
"I can tell you that he has certain conditions that cause him to, you know, do certain actions that people don't understand, like ... pulling over and parking for four hours," said brother Chris Brown. "And he falls asleep at the wheel and he doesn't want to endanger other people so he'll pull over and go to sleep and sometimes that confuses people, but you know it's just how he is."
His family says he didn't deserve to be shot, and the fact that it happened on a residential street raises public safety concerns.
Donna Brown said her son is not a violent person and turned himself in the last time he got into trouble with police. The family says they are now looking for answers.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating the incident, as with any officer-involved shooting.
"Based on the details I have so far, I'm confident the officers involved responded as they've been trained to do so," said Chief Hanson.
The officer who fired three shots had been with the Calgary Police Service for a year and a half.
"It quickly escalated from what was in essence a follow up where they're at another address to one where a member's life was put at risk," said Hanson. "I mean at the end of the day that's how rapidly these things can escalate and officers are trained to do an assessment of the circumstance and respond with whatever force is appropriate to protect themselves or a member of the public."
The officers involved are both suspended with pay for 30 days.