Booze, meth blamed for 3 potentially deadly situations faced by Winnipeg police

Winnipeg police say it is fortunate no one died after officers encountered three situations this week in which they would have been justified in using lethal force.

'Luckily, in all of these cases, the individuals were not hurt'

Winnipeg police used Tasers to protect themselves in two encounters this week. They drew guns in a third incident. (CBC)

Winnipeg police say it is fortunate no one died after officers encountered three situations this week in which they would have been justified in using lethal force.

In two situations, officers had to use a Taser to protect themselves. In the third, they drew their guns after a man went to grab a machete tucked under his shirt and in his waistband.

"Luckily, in all of these cases, the individuals were not hurt. Our officers did not need to resort to lethal threat," said Const. Rob Carver, adding that encountering a machete was uncommon a couple of years ago but has now become a regularity.

"It seems to be a weapon of choice, and it's a dangerous, serious weapon."

The fact that some hide a machete in a pant leg makes Carver shake his head in disbelief. The weapons range from 10-28 inches long.

"It's not what I would want to do," he said.

We're now of the opinion that almost anybody that is using methamphetamine is armed, typically with an edged weapon- Const. Rob Carver

The predominance of methamphetamine in the city is partly blamed for the spike in machetes and an increase in assaults against officers.

It's common now to hear about one incident every day of someone trying to attack an officer, Carver said.

"A large part of this problem is being fuelled by methamphetamine on the streets … which makes individuals very aggressive and very unpredictable," he said.

"Officers are facing more violence, more heightened levels of violence and more weapons. We're now of the opinion that almost anybody that is using methamphetamine is armed, typically with an edged weapon. That seems to be the norm."

Just after 10 p.m. Monday, officers stopped a man in the area of Furby Street and Bannatyne Avenue, near Health Sciences Centre, because he was acting suspiciously

He gave a false name but a computer check revealed his actual identity, and that he was wanted for a probation breach, Carver said.

As officers attempted to arrest him, he lifted his shirt and grabbed the handle of a machete tucked under his belt. Both officers drew their guns and demanded he put his hands up. He did and was handcuffed.

Police seized the machete as well as a prohibited knife, a digital scale and 1.75 grams of meth.
   
A 40-year-old man is charged with numerous weapons offences, obstructing a peace officer, identity fraud, assault, possession of meth for the purpose of trafficking and failing to comply with a probation order.

Family fight driven by booze

Earlier that same day, around 5:40 p.m., police were called to an argument and disturbance by intoxicated people in an alley behind Union Avenue W., off Roch Street, in Elmwood.

It turned out to be four related people fighting, "their aggression fuelled by alcohol," Carver said.

As the first officer to arrive was getting out of his vehicle, a man charged at him with fists clenched, Carver said. The officer used his Taser to stun the attacker but the man was still agitated and grabbed the handle of the officer's gun and tried to pull it from the holster.

The two struggled until additional officers arrived to help out. Neither the officers nor the attacker suffered any injuries, fortunately, Carver said.

If the gun had been pulled out, the officer's life would have been in jeopardy and that would have been considered a lethal force encounter, Carver said.

"The officer can then do whatever he needs to do to protect his life," he said. "This had all the potential for somebody to end up seriously injured or killed."

A 30-year-old man is charged with disarming a peace officer, assaulting a peace officer and resisting a peace officer.

In the third incident, which happened just after 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, an officer patrolling downtown saw a man breaking into a vehicle in a parkade on Smith Street near York Avenue.

As the officer was trying to arrest him, the man reached into his waistband, prompting the officer to use a Taser.

The man was handcuffed and a search located a machete, a knife, break-in tools and a small amount of meth.

A 24-year-old has been charged with weapons offences, possessing break-in instruments, possessing meth and breaching probation.

"The common theme here is that our officers were presented with situations where they were at serious risk," Carver said.