Winnipeg officer justified in shooting teen in finger: police watchdog

A Winnipeg officer who shot a 16-year-old boy after he didn't comply with repeated commands to drop a weapon did not commit a crime, Manitoba's police watchdog says.

Teen was holding rifle in such a way that he could have quickly turned it on officers, IIU says

The officer fired the gun during in October 2018, when police responded to reports of as many as 10 males, possibly with machine guns, firing shots and banging on doors in Winnipeg's North End. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

A Winnipeg officer who shot a 16-year-old boy after he didn't comply with repeated commands to drop a weapon did not commit a crime, Manitoba's police watchdog says.

The bullet hit the teen in the ring finger of his right hand and left him with non-life-threatening injuries.

The police officer fired the gun during a confrontation just after midnight on Oct. 4, 2018, when police responded to reports of as many as 10 males, possibly with machine guns, firing shots and banging on doors in the city's North End.

When police arrived, the 16-year-old was seen running with a rifle in his hands near Mountain Avenue and Salter Street, says a news release from the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which looks into all serious police-related matters, whether occurring on or off duty.

The teen refused to obey repeated police commands to stop and was holding the rifle in a way that made it possible to quickly turn it on police, the IIU release said.

IIU civilian director Zane Tessler said the fact the teen did not suffer life-threatening injuries was not a factor in determining whether the use of force was justified.

The threat the teen posed to police was real and possibly imminent, and it was reasonable to fire at the youth to prevent the death of other officers and civilians, Tessler said.

The investigation included interviews with 14 witnesses, the IIU said, and the teen faces charges related to the incident.

The IIU's complete report will be posted online after the case is dealt with in the courts.