RCMP officer who shot man during 2018 traffic stop is cleared
'There are no grounds to consider any charges against the police officer,' said SIRT
An RCMP officer in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley has been cleared of wrongdoing after he shot a man in the hand during a traffic stop in 2018, an incident that shut down part of Highway 101 for almost 40 hours.
In a report released on Wednesday, the province's police watchdog, the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), said the officer was "reasonable and justified" in firing his weapon under the circumstances.
SIRT has not identified the officer who was under investigation, or the person who was shot. However, CBC News reported at the time that Dhari Salman Shalaan was arrested in relation to the incident and had been injured during his run-in with police.
According to the SIRT report, the incident started early in the morning on Dec. 11, 2018, when the RCMP officer spotted a car on Highway 101 near Berwick, N.S., that was speeding and had only one headlight. The officer pulled the car over on the Exit 15 on-ramp and approached the driver-side window, where he smelled alcohol.
The driver, Shalaan, said he was headed to Moncton, N.B., which was in a different direction. Shalaan was asked to get out of the car and go with the officer to the police cruiser so the officer could determine if the alcohol he smelled was coming from Shalaan or his passenger.
On the way to the cruiser, the Shalaan kept holding his right arm close to his body while swinging his left arm, according to the report. It made the officer suspicious, so he tried to search Shalaan before putting him in the cruiser.
But Shalaan wouldn't co-operate, according to the SIRT report.
Shalaan kept reaching for his pocket, so the officer radioed for backup. Then Shalaan turned, headbutted the officer in the chest and shoved him, SIRT said. Shalaan started backing away from the officer, took out a gun and told the officer to "freeze."
In response, the officer drew his service pistol and fired several times. Shalaan ran into the woods where he was found later that morning with a wound to his right hand.
Police shut down Highway 101 between exits 15 and 16 for almost 40 hours while they conducted their investigation.
It took an extensive six-day search of the woods to find Shalaan's unloaded gun. SIRT said the weapon had Shalaan's blood on it.
Shalaan faced numerous charges in relation to the incident and pleaded guilty to assaulting a peace officer, pointing a firearm, possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a firearm while prohibited, according to SIRT.
SIRT said the Criminal Code states that a peace officer is justified in using force that can cause death or grievous bodily harm if the officer "believes on reasonable grounds that the force is necessary for the purpose of protecting the peace officer or any other person from imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm."
"The SIRT investigation found the use of force exercised by the officer was reasonable and justified in the circumstances. Therefore, there are no grounds to consider any charges against the police officer," SIRT said in a news release.