Non-police party should investigate, lawyer says
The weekend shooting of a civilian by an Edmonton police officer needs to be investigated by the Solicitor General’s Office, a prominent defence lawyer and police critic said yesterday.
While city police have already asked the RCMP to investigate, there needs to be more separation from the police service involved in the incident, said Tom Engel of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association.
“Going to the RCMP is a positive step, but it’s still police investigating themselves,” he said. “You have to remember that the Edmonton police service works hand-in-hand with the RCMP in a lot of matters.”
Police were called to a landlord-tenant dispute around 7:30 p.m. Friday where a female tenant was allegedly armed with a knife.
Two officers, a man and a woman, approached the apartment complex at 12402 115 Ave. when the tenant allegedly moved towards them in a threatening manner.
The male officer then shot the woman in the stomach, perceiving her actions as some kind of threat to his female partner.
The woman was rushed to the University of Alberta hospital, where she underwent surgery, and is now listed in critical but stable condition, a Capital Health spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.
Engel believes the incident needs a full review by Fred Lindsay, Alberta’s Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. He has authority under an amended police act to launch investigations involving serious injury, death, or matters of a sensitive nature, he said.
A representative from the Solicitor General’s Office could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Cpl. Wayne Oakes, an RCMP spokesman, told reporters Saturday that it’s become quite common for investigations involving police shootings to be conducted by an outside police agency.
He denied that the RCMP would be unable to conduct an impartial examination into fellow officers, citing it as something they do quite frequently.
“They do that in a diligent, open-minded manner with objectivity to what their goal is,” he said.
While the specifics of this case are still not known, Engel said, the public needs to know if the officers were trained and equipped with Tasers — and if so, why they weren’t used in place of a firearm.
“There’s a big debate about Tasers, but clearly the use of a Taser is far less likely to kill someone than a gun,” he said.
On Friday, deputy police chief Norm Lipinski said both officers involved in the incident are “junior constables.”
A police spokesperson could not be reached for further comment yesterday.