A troubled history: RCMP justified in shooting death of Alberta man, investigation concludes

RCMP officers who shot a Morinville man in an armed stand-off in May 2015 were justified in their response, an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has concluded.

The man pointed two long-barrelled rifles at police before he was shot by RCMP

RCMP continue to investigate near a rural property near Morinville, following an officer-involved shooting that left a person dead. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

RCMP officers who shot and killed a Morinville man in an armed stand-off in May 2015 were justified in their response, an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has concluded.

In her report released Friday,  ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson concluded officers acted lawfully when they fired a single round at the suspect, a "troubled man" who was armed with two long-barrelled rifles.  

On May 22, police were called to a rural home by a family member who was concerned for their safety. A male relative who was prohibited by a court order from being on the property had shown up at the home.

The caller reported the man was suffering from a medical condition and was "acting out of character." The caller suggested he may have stopped taking his medication, according to the investigative report released by ASIRT Friday.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m,, four officers arrived at the family home and began searching the property for the suspect. More than an hour later, the man was still unaccounted for. While officers waited for a canine unit to arrive, they spotted the suspect in a nearby field.

A violent confrontation 

The officers called out to the man who yelled, then bent over and picked up two long-barrelled firearms, holding one in each hand, the report said.

The suspect then turned and walked away from the police. Two of the officers ran towards a tree line in the field to try and maintain sight of him.

"The officers continually communicated with the man, attempting to de-escalate the situation, telling him he was under arrest [and] requesting he put down the guns and surrender," said a statement from ASIRT. 

As the two officers arrived at the tree line, the man stopped and turned around to face them. It appeared he was loading one of the firearms.

When the man raised his firearm and pointed it in the direction of the Mounties, an officer fired a single round from his carbine rifle, and the man fell to the ground.

With officers on the ground unable to safely approach the armed man, air crews were called in to assist. An armoured vehicle was brought in to finally secure the suspect.

'A troubled history'

Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was declared dead on scene. 

The 47-year-old man had a lengthy and troubled history of significant mental illness and conflict with the law, Hughson concluded in her report

"He had a documented history of psychotic and mood related behavioural issues and delusional thoughts for which his family had repeatedly sought help," Hughson said in a statement. 

"Within the preceding year, the man had previously made comments that he would not be able to handle going to jail, that he hated police, and that he had had suicidal thoughts. He was supposed to be under psychiatric care at the time of his death."

The autopsy report confirmed the man died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Toxicology tests also determined the presence of methamphetamine in his body.

Hughson said the officers involved in the shooting were acting lawfully and their use of force was reasonable. 

"The loss of a life is always a tragedy and this case was no exception," she said in a statement. " The troubled man had a family that loved him and had attempted to get him help for his mental health issues."