Stop them before they kill again. Over the course of 2016 the Calgary police have been on a veritable killing spree. Only a week after they claimed their fourth victim (and ninth shooting) of the year, Terrence Weinmeyer (49), officers of the Calgary Police Service (CPS) killed again. This time the victim was a woman (said to be 27-years-old). With more than a month left in the year CPS officers have now shot 10 people and killed five. This is outrageous behavior even for police and suggests that this particular force, in a mid-sized city, is confident that members will face no consequences for use of extreme, lethal, violence. That the fifth victim of the killing rampage by Calgary Police Service is a woman is somewhat startling given that most civilian victims of police killings are male, predominantly so.
Executed for “Acting Erratically”
The woman was engaged by police in the early morning of Tuesday, November 29 in Sunalta around the 1700 block of 11the Avenue S.W. Police claim they were called to the neighborhood around 2:30 AM. At some point they claim they observed the victim banging on building doors and car windows. They claim she was acting erratically and for this it seems they took the action of killing her.
In the view of one neighbor of the victim, Raine McLeod, the police clearly overreacted. According to McLeod:
“I was appalled and disgusted and absolutely shocked that they would have to use that kind of force, or they would determine that kind of force was required. She was always really nice in the hallway. We knew each others’ names. Our dogs liked each other. She was pleasant. She never seemed threatening or scary or anything like that. She seemed like a nice, normal girl.” (quoted in CBC News 2016)
An image of the supposed weapons said to be held by the victim show a poor facsimile of a broken steak knife and a bent piece of tin. Clearly these are not the “weapons” to panic a trained, professional as Chief Roger Chaffin would claim his officers to be.
The Calgary force has taken to issuing and carrying out extrajudicial death sentences for very low level activities. And the threshold appears to be getting lower. Terrence Weinmeyer was executed for being in a possibly stolen vehicle. The woman killed on November 29 was executed for supposedly acting erratically. The executing officer has been on the force for one year. She has apparently been a quick learner.
Incredibly, the chief of the Calgary police, the by now rather notorious Roger Chaffin, once again jumped to conclusions and offered the by now ready-made, and unsubstantiated, pat answer to explain away and justify his force’s seemingly murderous activities. Claimed Chaffin the fault lies not with an out of control force that has apparently gotten a taste for blood, but with general opioid use (in the city?; the province?; the country?). This has become too simple, and too simplistic. The chief cannot be taken seriously at this point. Not further that Chief Chaffin has offered public warnings, not so thinly veiled threats really, to whistleblowers within the force.
His pat answer about social drug use cannot explain why someone banging on windows and doors would be shot and killed so quickly and without pursuit of alternatives by CPS officers. This really calls into question the basic capability, competence, and judgement of officers as well as the general mindset of the force more broadly.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines killings of civilians in the province is investigating this most recent killing by Calgary police. ASIRT does not have a great record (or any record) of holding killer police in Alberta to any accountability for their actions.
CBC News. 2016. “Woman Shot Dead by Calgary Police Was Armed with 2 Knives, Officials Say.” CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/woman-shot-dead-police-sunalta-1.3872286