N.W.T. RCMP say 3 officers fired at armed woman

The territory's commanding officer answered questions Wednesday about the fatal shooting of a Yellowknife woman in March during an armed standoff.

Police answer questions about fatal Yellowknife shooting last winter

Three police officers shot at a woman during a standoff in Yellowknife in March, and she was struck by four bullets, says the head of the RCMP for the Northwest Territories.

Karen Lander was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead.

N.W.T. RCMP Chief Supt. Wade Blake says officers had non-lethal tools at hand on the evening Karen Lander was shot and killed during an armed standoff “but the situation as it unfolded resulted in them firing their weapons.” (CBC)

The shooting ended a standoff of almost five hours that began when police received a call that Lander may be suicidal. Police say they fired when she came charging out of the house and pointed a rifle at them.

On Wednesday, Chief Supt. Wade Blake said officers had non-lethal tools at hand that evening – "but the situation as it unfolded resulted in them firing their weapons."

Blake said the officers who shot Lander took several days off and saw an RCMP psychologist.

Lander’s death renewed calls for better mental health care in the North.    

Caroline Johnson, the acting head of the Centre for Northern Families, a Yellowknife women’s shelter that sees many people with mental health issues, said dangerous and sometimes fatal standoffs by desperate people will continue to happen in the North until more qualified mental health care is available.

"All of the support services within the communities are trying our best to deal with mentally ill people and we don't have the skills and qualifications to do that," said Johnson.

"I personally don't blame the RCMP for what they did in that situation. I think it's a bigger picture and that we need more mental health services."

An investigation of the shooting by the Medicine Hat Police Force concluded that no charges should be laid against the officers involved in the shooting.

The RCMP and the N.W.T. coroner's office are reviewing the investigators’ report. The coroner's decision on whether to hold an inquest is expected by the end of the year.