RCMP justified in Alta. umbrella shooting
Alberta's police watchdog says victim was off meds, looking for a lethal confrontation
The Alberta police watchdog agency has cleared a Calgary RCMP officer who shot and killed a man in Okotoks, Alta. last July.
The member of the emergency response team who fired the three fatal shots into 39-year-old Corey Lewis believed the man was holding a gun to his shoulder.
It turned out to be an umbrella.
At a news conference Friday, Alberta Serious Incident Response Team executive director Clif Purvis said police later seized documents written by Lewis that indicated "it was his intention to become involved in a lethal confrontation."
He was also off medications he was prescribed for depression, Purvis said.
He described how the incident played out. RCMP in the small southern Alberta town were called to a report of a domestic assault at about 8 p.m. on July 17, 2010.
When officers arrived, they found Lewis to be in possession of what was believed was a 12-gauge shotgun, Purvis said. Officers retreated, and discovered there were a further five long-barrelled firearms registered to the residence.
'Kneeling, shooter's stance' noted
The RCMP emergency response team was dispatched and set up positions around the house.
Police couldn't get Lewis on the phone, Purvis said, so they set up a loudspeaker to enable the on-scene negotiator to communicate.
Police were encouraged when Lewis was talked into turning on the house's porch light, Purvis said. But the light was switched off after only a few minutes.
Purvis said Lewis walked out of the building shortly before 2 a.m., "and was observed carrying an item in his arms."
"He took up a kneeling stance and raised an object to his shoulder and pointed it at the loudspeaker. The object he was holding appeared to have a silver tip and was dark in colour," Purvis said. "RCMP members report that they believed at the time the item he was carrying was a rifle. He is described by police officers on scene as taking a 'kneeling, shooter's stance,' aiming the item at the loudspeaker."
The RCMP officer fired six rounds from his M16 carbine from a distance of about 10 metres, striking Lewis three times.
"After having considered the actions of the deceased, and the material seized by investigators, I am satisfied that the deceased intended to engage police in a potentially lethal confrontation," said Purvis.
"I have considered that the actions that the police officer involved in this tragic shooting were both justified and lawful. As I indicated, this is a tragedy for the friends and family of the deceased, and this finding does not change that. Our sympathies go out to those individuals affected by this tragedy."
Left behind wife, 4 children
Alberta RCMP spokesman Sgt. Patrick Webb said the veteran officer involved in the shooting is back on the job and still serves on the ERT.
"He was very experienced. You don't get on the emergency response team without a lot of experience and a lot of qualifications…. He certainly knew what he was doing."
The RCMP are conducting their own incident review.
Lewis, a father of four, was married to then-town councillor Naydene Lewis.
Okotoks is about 40 kilometres south of Calgary.