A woman shot and killed by Edmonton police on Saturday was brandishing a replica handgun, officials confirmed Monday, disclosing that two officers were involved in the incident in which Bernadette Auger died.
Cliff Purvis of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, ASIRT, said Auger was holding an air-gun replica of a Sig Sauer when she was shot by the two officers. Both officers discharged their weapons at roughly the same time and both fired shots that struck Auger, said Purvis.
"I can tell you that Ms. Auger was holding what appeared to be a black handgun," said Purvis, ASIRT's executive director. "That item was seized from the scene. It has been examined and it is not a functioning handgun. Rather, it is what can be best described as a replica of a small Sig handgun."
One of the officers involved in the shooting has been on the force for about 18 months, while the other has 13 years of experience in the police service.
An autopsy was being conducted.
Neighbours said Auger, 48, suffered chronic pain and often talked of suicide.
"She used to say bad things when she's angry, like suicidal talk," said her neighbour, Freda Fryingpan.
Auger was originally from Wabasca and had only moved to Edmonton two months ago. The woman was in a car accident a number of years ago and still suffered a lot of pain, Fryingpan said.
"Every morning when she gets up she has a sore back and there is something else, her head, and I guess she told her boyfriend, that 'I wish I was dead'," she said.
According to published reports, relatives said pain medication Auger took altered her behaviour. Fryingpan's daughter, Marilyn, described Auger as depressed.
"I think she was confused. She didn't know what was going on," she said.
Police were called to the walk-up apartment at 119th Avenue and 84th Street just after 2 p.m. Saturday after they received a 911 call about a woman carrying a gun.
Shortly after they arrived, the woman went back inside the apartment building. Half an hour later she came back outside and confronted police. Police way officers fired two shots at her when she didn't respond to their commands. Auger was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Purvis, whose office released photos of the replica gun and an authentic Sig Sauer handgun, said the ASIRT investigation was continuing and would touch on the question of what the officers were thinking when they fired.
"One of the things we are considering in the course of this and any other ASIRT investigation is were the actions of the police justified in all of the circumstances?" said Purvis.
"One of the circumstances that we'll consider is were they reasonable in their belief that this was a functioning handgun? And so to examine the handgun and how it appeared and how it appeared to others is critical."