Officers acted reasonably in 2017 police shooting that left one person dead: ASIRT

Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) executive director Susan Hughson gives a report on her findings into an Oct. 19, 2017, shooting death of a 26-year-old man who was shot during an interaction with Gleichen RCMP officers during a press conference in Edmonton, on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia Postmedia

As one case is closed, another one is opened for Alberta’s provincial police watchdog.

On Tuesday, The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) ruled RCMP officers acted reasonably during a shooting in 2017 that left a 26-year-old man dead in the community of Gleichen. As they were addressing the media, the organization also said it had been called to investigate a Monday police shooting in Edmonton

Susan Hughson, ASIRT’s executive director, said Gleichen RCMP officers came across a man parked on the wrong side of the road, outside a home known to be part of the local drug trade, on Oct. 19, 2017. Police drove by a second time at approximately 3:40 a.m. and noticed a man was sitting in the driver’s seat with his head cocked back awkwardly. Once the officers approached the vehicle they noticed the man was armed and attempted to arrest him.

Postmedia reported at the time the man was Cavin Poucette, who friends said was originally from Morley on the Nakoda First Nation.

“The officers shouted verbal commands identifying themselves as police and informing the occupant of the vehicle that he was under arrest,” said Hughson. “The man failed to respond and continued to reach for the firearm, prompting the officer on the driver’s side of the vehicle to fire his service pistol, wounding the man.”

In their subsequent investigation, ASIRT found the man had a past record that prohibited him from being in possession of any firearms. Hughson said three witnesses told investigators the man had previously stated he would not go back to jail and if police tried to arrest him, he would start a ‘shootout.’

A toxicology report found alcohol, methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis in the man’s system. He had two shotgun shells, two pipes and several bags of unknown pills in his pocket, Hughson said.

“This was a person who was clearly in crisis,” said Hughson. “Based on his comments, he certainly intended to engage in a shootout with police and one of the consequences of doing so are that he may end up killed.”

Hughson said the gun he was armed with was found to be inoperable, but officers had no way of knowing that at the time.

“This young man had a family, he was loved. They were devastated at the time, so it is important to remember that this young man is not just the sum of what happened on this particular date and there are people out there who cared for him,” said Hughson.

ASIRT also announced Tuesday they have been directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding an officer-involved shooting in northeast Edmonton Monday that left a 37-year-old man with serious injuries.

A news release Tuesday said officers saw a possible break and enter at a gas station near 24400 Highway 37. When they arrived on scene multiple suspects jumped into a Dodge truck that had backed into the gas station and tried to leave the scene. The truck hit the police cruiser and officers fired their service pistols.

Following a chase on Highway 28, the truck hit a ditch, one person left the vehicle and the truck continued to drive into the cruiser once again. Officers fired their weapons. Four people were arrested and charged, one with two gunshot wounds to the leg.

Hughson declined to comment further on the Edmonton case, other than acknowledging her organization was investigating and she was proud of the work her investigators are doing.

Gleichen is approximately 95 kilometres east of Calgary.