EPS ‘acted reasonably’ in stolen vehicle pursuit that led to fatal crash: ASIRT

An investigation into a police chase that led to a fatal crash found Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers “acted reasonably.”

On July 3, 2017, an officer in an unmarked police vehicle was following a stolen truck in west Edmonton.

Other police vehicles joined the pursuit, following the truck outside of city limits to a dead-end road.

“The man driving the stolen truck made a U-turn and passed the EPS vehicles that had been following him—a manoeuvre that alerted him to the presence of police,” The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said in a release.

Police unsuccessfully tried to stop the truck using a spike belt before the truck sped off down the dirt road.

EPS officers declared a “criminal flight,” activated lights and sirens and followed the truck back into city limits.

ASIRT said the truck headed east on Whitemud Drive at 100km/h, then veered into the oncoming lane.

“The ranking officer in command at the time ordered all EPS units to discontinue the pursuit. As required, all the police vehicles pulled over onto the side of the road and deactivated their emergency equipment,” ASIRT said.

The truck continued in the wrong lanes and collided head-on with a vehicle at the westbound Whitemud Drive exit of Anthony Henday Drive.

The suspects fled on foot. The driver of the vehicle hit by the stolen truck, a 64-year-old man, died at the scene. His passenger, a 62-year-old woman, died in hospital.

ASIRT said a review of radio communications confirmed officers immediately called off the chase.

“The ranking officer in command provided the order, ‘Terminate, terminate,’ over the radio. All the involved officers acknowledge hearing the command and immediately stopped pursuing the truck,” ASIRT said.

The police vehicles were also equipped with GPS, “which provided both the location and speed of the vehicle, and confirmed that at the time of the collision, every vehicle was either stopped or at a significant distance from the crash.”

After reviewing all of the evidence, ASIRT said “the actions of EPS officers during this incident demonstrate awareness and responsiveness to the escalating behaviour of the stolen vehicle’s driver.

“As such, it cannot be said that any EPS officers caused or contributed to the two deaths that resulted from this collision.”