Police who confronted a woman holding what appeared to be a black handgun — but later turned out to be a toy — had no option but to shoot her, says a group that investigates serious police actions in Alberta.

“I’ve concluded that the police officers involved in this ... shooting acted lawfully and their actions were justified,” Clifton Purvis, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said yesterday.


“This finding does not diminish the tragedy of her death and our sympathies go out to her friends and family.” Purvis outlined what happened on the afternoon of Jan. 16 at a northeast Edmonton apartment building.


Bernadette Auger, 48, was extremely drunk — her blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit — and she was brandishing what looked like a gun at police and others in her building.

The gun was later found to be a toy pistol with the name of a well-known handgun manufacturer and model number on it. An orange plug placed on toy guns when they leave the factory had been removed.

“I’ve concluded that ... it would have been impossible to identify that the pistol she was holding was a toy as opposed to a real firearm,” Purvis said.