Calgary police have become among the most deadly city forces in the country. The police war on drugs in Calgary has claimed yet another victim among these as a 49-year-old man, Terrence Weinmeyer, was shot and killed by police in a strip mall in the northwest part of the city on November 22, 2016. Weinmeyer is the fourth person killed and ninth person shot by Calgary police in 2016 alone. Weinmeyer’s brother described his loved one as: “He was a very good man with a big heart. He was a good father” (quoted in Grant 2016). Police tried to smear their victim by reporting his criminal record.
Calgary police have killed an inordinate number of people over the last year in protecting motor vehicles against being stolen. Extrajudicial execution seems a steep penalty for theft. And while police claim to be restricted in what they can say about such killings they have not held back in linking supposed vehicle thefts to drugs. Specifically they have played on growing public fears over fentanyl to justify police actions and explain away police killings of civilians. Even when there is no independently confirmed link to fentanyl.
This killing occurred, according to police, as officers in the break-and-enter unit were supposedly moving to make an arrest of someone in a vehicle. Police claim the vehicle reversed and police opened fire killing one person inside. Another person was apparently taken into custody, but no charges have been laid against her as of yet. The truck in question had been boxed in by police so it is not clear why police decided to shoot Weinmeyer when it seems the vehicle was not able to leave the scene. Witnesses reported having to swerve to avoid police and noted that they had been traumatized by police actions (Tucker 2016). The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that investigates police killings of civilians, is investigating this case.
Calgary police superintendent James Hardy claimed he could not provide any details of the incident and possible threats posed to the public because of the ASIRT investigation. Yet he felt that it was alright to attribute the victim’s actions to opiate use, which should have been similarly subject to ASIRT conditions, and which was not independently confirmed at the time the statement was made publicly. According to Hardy (despite claims that he cannot provide details): “As you are well aware, in what seems to be a nightly occurrence, the high frequency of crimes like stolen vehicles gives rise to serious officer and public safety concerns. You have these stolen vehicles and when these individuals are on opiates, they press hard” (quoted in Anderson 2016). Yet there is nothing in this case to suggest the public faced any direct safety concerns.
The contradiction in police speaking while saying they could not speak was hinted at by ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson. She acknowledged: “From time to time there may be a disagreement from CPS (Calgary Police Service) needs compared to our needs” (quoted in Grant 2016).
Clearly this was an opportunistic statement from Calgary police provided first to justify the killing by police, and secondly to stoke public fears and prejudices in a manner favorable to police drug war activities.
Violence by Calgary Police Service officers has kept ASIRT busy the last two years. In 2015 they had 78 files which represented a 100 percent increase over what had been the recorded average over the period 2008 to 2013. In 2016, with a month left in the year, they are at 74 files (Tucker 2016).
Anderson, Drew. 2016. “Man Shot Dead by Calgary Police Investigating Suspected Drug-Related Truck Theft.” CBC News. November 22. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/officer-involved-shooting-northwest-calgary-1.3863104
Grant, Meghan. 2016. “Victim of This Year’s 9th Police Shooting Had Lengthy Criminal History.” CBC News. November 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-police-officer-involved-shooting-terrence-weinmeyer-1.3864127
Tucker, Erika. 2016. “Victim Identified in Calgary’s 9th Police Shooting of 2016; ASIRT Releases Few Details.” Global News. November 23. http://globalnews.ca/news/3084514/victim-identified-in-calgarys-9th-officer-involved-shooting-of-2016/