Manitoba

22-year-old man dead after 3rd Winnipeg police shooting in 10 days

A 22-year-old man was killed by a police officer early Saturday morning in the third police shooting in Winnipeg in 10 days. A 16-year-old boy was also injured in the incident, police said.

16-year-old injured, in custody following incident, police chief says

Police cars and yellow tape blocked off a back lane in the area of Pipeline Road and Adsum Drive late Saturday morning. (Travis Golby/CBC)

A 22-year-old man was killed by a police officer early Saturday morning in the third police shooting in Winnipeg in 10 days.

A 16-year-old boy was also injured in the incident, police said.

At a news conference on Saturday, Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth said officers responded to a gun call on Adsum Drive near Pipeline Road around 4 a.m. A resident who was putting out his garbage said he was confronted by two armed males who he said tried to rob him. The man was assaulted but was able to run away and call 911, police said.

Soon after that, Smyth said, police got a second call from someone in the area saying windows were being broken at an apartment building on that block.

Officers started searching the area and found the man and the teen nearby at 4:19 a.m., Smyth said. Shortly after that, he said police fired.

Smyth did not provide any details about what led up to the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation by Manitoba's police watchdog.

Zane Tessler, the civilian director of the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, confirmed the unit is investigating the incident. Tessler said he could not provide any details about the shooting on Saturday morning.

He said the unit, which investigates serious incidents involving police in Manitoba, will likely not provide an update until Monday.

Several orange pylons sat inside part of a back lane cordoned off with yellow police tape late Saturday morning. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Smyth said the man and the teen were armed, but did not say what kind of weapons they had.

"I'm not in a position to tell you what the weapons were. I can tell you some weapons were recovered," Smyth said. 

"To me, that's getting into IIU territory. That will be up to their investigation, and they'll release on that."

Smyth said officers gave emergency first aid to the 22-year-old, who was taken to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, where he died. The 16-year-old was also taken to hospital with minor injuries and is currently in police custody. Smyth said he didn't know if the teen's injuries were related to his arrest, but that he did not believe they were from the shooting.

Smyth said the man who called 911 about the alleged robbery was also treated for minor injuries in hospital, and is now back at police headquarters going over what happened.

The 22-year-old is the fourth person to die in a police shooting in Winnipeg so far this year and the third in ten days.

On the evening of April 8, officers shot and killed 16-year-old Eishia Hudson near the intersection of Lagimodiere Boulevard and Fermor Avenue, following a police chase that started after police said a group of teens robbed the Liquor Mart in Winnipeg's Sage Creek neighbourhood.

Early the next morning, 36-year-old Jason Collins was killed outside a home on Anderson Avenue by officers who were responding to a domestic violence call at the house.

Those fatal shootings happened within 12 hours of each other.

Earlier in the year, police shot a 27-year-old man after attending a conflict involving an edged weapon on Kowalsky Crescent on March 10. He was taken to hospital but died.

Former police watchdog reacts

A former director of the Special Investigations Unit in Ontario said the rate of recent police-involved deaths in Winnipeg is comparatively high — but we shouldn't be quick to judge.

"Three fatal shootings involving the police is a lot, on a percentage basis," said Ian Scott. He said the number of recent shootings seems "disproportionate" for a city of its size, with slightly more than 700,000 people, according to the latest census.

Scott said typically he would see about 10 to 12 killings for a population of roughly 14 million over the course of a year in Ontario.

So far this year, Ontario's police watchdog says one person has died after being shot by police in Toronto, and another person has been injured in the city.

"It spins on the facts of every single incident and I don't want to pre-judge the results of the investigations, but on the surface it sounds like a lot of fatalities in a very short period of time," he said during a Skype interview from Toronto.

He said it is too early to tell if police shootings have become a trend in the city.

Ian Scott, a former director of the Special Investigations Unit in Ontario, said three police shootings in 10 days seems disproportionately high, although all must be investigated on their own terms. (CBC)

When the Ontario police watchdog was created in 1990, Scott said regulations in place prevented police from commenting on the incident once the SIU took over the investigation.

"What was happening was the affected police service were coming out with media coverage which was kind of prejudging the outcome of the investigation," he said. As a result, the law in Ontario was changed so that only independent investigators could give a media report.

Scott said the lead investigators should be transparent while controlling the flow of information — as opposed to the police subjects of investigation — to avoid having witnesses change their views of the situation tainted by media reports.

"It is a very difficult situation particularly when there's a fatality involving the police because you really don't want to fuel the flames of either sides of the equation," he said, to maintain the independence and the integrity of the investigation.

The rise of social media use by civilians at the scene can complicate things beyond the control of police and the SIU, he said.

For example, Scott gave the case of Sammy Yatim, 18, who was killed in a police shooting on a TTC streetcar in 2013. Scott said at the time he charged James Forcillo, the former Toronto police officer who shot the teenager and was convicted of attempted murder. When it went to trial by jury, he said social media drove people to march in the streets over it.

Scott said investigators must consider the three fatal shootings in the city based on the individual factors that led up to them, and determine whether or not those shootings were justified, without outside influence.

"It certainly is a hard one ... all you can really hope for is that there's thorough investigations in all three of them," he said.

A 22-year-old man was killed by a police officer early Saturday morning in the third police shooting in Winnipeg in 10 days. 2:09

With files from Austin Grabish

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