Manitoba Mountie's shooting of Thompson man in 2021 'reasonable, necessary': police watchdog
Man was intoxicated, didn't remember having knife; officer says he feared for his life
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An RCMP officer who shot and seriously injured a man in Thompson in 2021 was justified in using lethal force, Manitoba's police watchdog says.
The shooting of Raymond Michelle on Oct. 25 in the northern Manitoba city, which is about 650 kilometres north of Winnipeg, was video recorded by a witness and later posted on social media.
A police officer was serving legal documents at a home on Princeton Drive around 2:45 p.m. when he encountered a man armed with a knife nearby, a final report from Manitoba's Independent Investigation Unit says.
The man, later identified as Michelle, walked toward the officer with the knife in his hand.
A witness told investigators he heard the officer warn Michelle "at least a half dozen times" to put the knife down, and saw the officer back up to keep distance between them.
WATCH | Video shows shooting of Raymond Michelle:
Witnesses said Michelle continued to get closer to the Mountie as he backed up, which is also shown in the video.
The officer then shot Michelle once in the abdomen.
"The use of lethal force by the subject officer was reasonable, necessary and justified in law," civilian director Zane Tessler wrote in the report.
There are no grounds to pursue any charges against the officer, he said.
Michelle underwent surgery for the gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Later, he told investigators he was drinking before the shooting took place, and didn't remember having a knife.
The officer who fired his gun declined to be interviewed by investigators, but provided his notes and a written statement, the IIU report says.
The Mountie wrote that he was afraid for his life and didn't have an alternative weapon, like a Taser, to use on Michelle to stop him from getting closer with the knife.
"I wasn't given a choice, I had a duty to take control of the situation. I feared for my own life, recognizing the potential of death or grievous bodily harm," the officer said in the written statement.
The IIU reviewed two videos that were taken by witnesses, including one that they had enhanced by a professional video production firm in Winnipeg. It offered the "most significant, reliable and relevant evidence in this investigation," the report said.
Investigators also interviewed an officer who arrived after the shooting and a number of people who witnessed the shooting.
One witness earlier saw Michelle get pulled from the back of a vehicle and thrown to the ground near some garbage bins, where he lay motionless, before the RCMP arrived.
He suddenly woke up and started threatening people with the knife, witnesses said.
Tessler said he is believes Michelle "was armed with a knife, had threatened bystanders and posed a significant risk to the public."
The decision by the officer to shoot Michelle "was necessary to prevent the injury or death to himself or anyone in the vicinity," Tessler said.