ASIRT clears Calgary officer who shot knife-wielding man in 7-Eleven
Use of force ruled 'reasonable and justified' for armed suspect who ran at officers
The Calgary police officer who shot a knife-wielding man in a 7-Eleven store has been cleared by an ASIRT investigation into the 2017 incident.
Before he was shot, the 22-year-old man barricaded himself in a backroom, lit a fire, and ran at the officers with a knife — this after police had attempted to bring him down using a stun gun. The man, who survived the gunshot wound to his shoulder, died two months later of unrelated causes.
ASIRT investigates any incident in which police actions result in serious injury or death to any person. They made use of 911 calls, witness interviews and security camera video from the Rutland Park convenience store. The officer involved declined to provide a statement, as is his right.
The incident began when Calgary Police were called to the 7-Eleven store at 4604 37th Street S.W. for reports of a shirtless man wielding a knife. It was just after 8 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2017.
The clerk had called 911 when the man entered the store, beer in hand, and asked for a lighter.
As the clerk spoke with a 911 dispatcher, the man grabbed the clerk's phone and retreated to the mailroom storage area.
The open cellphone line captured the entire incident on a 911 recording.
As the clerk waited for help, a police officer entered the store to buy something. That officer began talking to the man through the closed door. Shortly after that, the dispatched officers arrived on scene. Customers were removed from the store.
Over the next few minutes, police continued to try to coax the man from the storage room.
He lit a fire inside the room.
Eventually, the man came out for some water.
The officers Tasered him.
According to the report, the stun gun had "no impact" on the man, who returned to the storage room. Meanwhile, the fire took out the electricity to the store, and the backup lighting system kicked in.
The officers stunned the man two more times, when he again emerged from the growing smoke in the room, still holding his knife. Again, the stun gun appeared to have no impact.
The final time he emerged from the room, still holding the knife, the man ran at the officers. That's when the officer fired two rounds, striking the man in the shoulder.
Stabbed himself in neck
"The man fell to the ground and began stabbing himself in the neck with the knife. When he ignored verbal commands from officers to drop the knife, officers deployed a CEW [conductive energy device] again to stop the man from harming himself. While it successfully stopped the man from continuing to stab himself in the neck, it did not cause him to drop the knife."
At that point, a police dog dragged the man to "an open area" and the officers were able to disarm him.
The incident ended with the officers carrying the man to a waiting ambulance. At the hospital, he was treated for the gunshot wound and for the burns to his back, chest and hands.
At that point, the man was booked into custody at the Calgary Remand Centre. According to the report, "On Dec. 23, 2017, shortly after his release, the 22-year-old man died in circumstances unrelated to his contact with police on Sept. 29, 2017 or the physical injuries he sustained."
ASIRT investigated the way the incident unfolded and escalated. They noted that officers had first attempted to encourage surrender through talking, and the use of a stun gun.
"His behaviour was erratic, unpredictable and concerning," the report says. "The fact that he was high and in the midst of a mental health crisis did not make him less dangerous and, arguably, would make him more dangerous as he was not making rational decisions or choices."
The report concluded that the force used in this incident was both reasonable and justified, and that the act of running toward officers with a knife warranted the immediate use of force.
"In the circumstances, it would be reasonable for the officer to perceive a threat capable of causing death or grievous bodily harm to himself, other officers or any other person," the report said. "Accordingly, it is reasonable that he resorted to the use of lethal force."