Man fatally shot by police had criminal history
Investigators said Friday that the man fatally shot by police earlier this week had a lengthy criminal record that included theft, robbery, and drug charges.
Jonathan Rawlings, 36, was shot dead by police in northeast Calgary early Thursday morning after he threatened an officer with a screwdriver while being arrested.
Police confirmed Friday that Rawlings, who died a short time later in hospital, was known to police and had faced more than 100 charges in the past. Rawlings was most recently arrested in April and charged with theft after police investigated a stolen van in northwest Calgary.
Roy Fitzpatrick, who speaks for the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which is heading the investigation, said the Calgary police officer fired four shots — all of which hit Rawlings.
He also confirmed that a screwdriver was found at the scene in the 200 block of Whiteview Road N.E. at about 12:45 a.m.
Police and association officials said the officer had no choice but to fire his weapon.
John Dooks, president of the Calgary Police Association, said as soon as a suspect pulls out a weapon of any kind, the threat level is so high and the time to react so short that it is the only option.
"Is the individual a threat to cause death or grievous bodily harm or serious bodily harm? So as soon as an individual has a weapon, a knife, a gun, a screwdriver, they have now escalated that to the top priority so until that weapon is removed from the equation, the officer is expected to use his firearm to stop the individual," Dooks said.
ASIRT continues investigation
The incident began to unfold when officers, who were investigating stolen vehicles, stopped a truck with three people inside, according to police.
Fitzpatrick said another aspect of the ASIRT investigation focuses on the scene where a stolen truck was finally stopped, on 16th Avenue N.W. near the University Drive off-ramp.
Another suspect was injured when police fired plastic bullets at that scene, he said.
Police also revealed on Friday that Ryan William Witvoet, 27, faces 18 charges — including dangerous driving and property offences — in connection with the incident.
It is alleged he evaded police and drove dangerously around several parts of north Calgary before being stopped near University Drive.
Witvoet is set to appear in court on Aug. 15.
A woman who was with Witvoet at the time of the arrest is not facing any charges.
Investigators are continuing to gather witness statements related to the incident, Fitzpatrick said.
"We'll be looking at scenes. We'll be examining police vehicles, we'll be sending things to forensic labs to see if we can get some type of evidence that would either support or deny what's potentially being said by witnesses," he said.
ASIRT has investigated 54 cases involving the Calgary Police Service since 2008.