Monthly Archives: March 2018

Alberta RCMP Shoot and Kill Adam Bettahar (21) Outside Edmonton (March 29, 2018)

Alberta RCMP shot and killed 21-year-old Abderrahmane (Adam) Bettahar outside Edmonton following a multi-vehicle chase on the evening of March 29, 2018. Bettahar was a suspect in the death of 22-year-old Nadia El-Dib on March 25 in Calgary. No cause of death or motive in the death of El-Dib has been released publicly.

According to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians, police identified Bettahar’s vehicle in Evansburg, Alberta, around 5:15 PM on Thursday, March 29. RCMP from various areas, Evansburg, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Edson, and Drayton Valley, chased the vehicle back and forth on Highway 16 between Evansburg and Entwistle. The driver apparently managed to avoid several spike belts deployed by the RCMP before the vehicle’s tires were deflated near Nojack, Alberta, about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton.

An interaction, said by ASIRT to be a shootout, resulted in the death of Bettahar. A cop was injured with non-life-threatening injuries, the source of which has not been confirmed. One witness has reported hearing 30 to 40 gunshots. Another reported hearing about 20 gunshots.

 

Advertisements

No Charges Against RCMP in Killing of Peter DeGroot in 2014

RCMP shot and killed Peter DeGroot in 2014 after tracking him to an isolated cabin in a remote woods near Slocan, British Columbia. It took the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) an outrageously long period of nearly four years to issue their report into the killing, which they finally did on March 29, 2018. Not surprisingly they cleared the officers involved in the killing of DeGroot. Broader questions remain about why they targeted and tracked the man who seemed only to want to be left alone in the woods.

It has been stated by police that the events leading to DeGroot’s killing began when RCMP officers responded to reports of a dispute between two people on October 9, 2014. DeGroot fled into the woods. Police initiated a search by officers, deploying helicopters and dogs. Police found DeGroot alone in a cabin four days later while out in the woods on unrelated business. Initial evidence and a first coroner’s report suggested that DeGroot had been shot in the back. Some have speculated that the drawn out investigation was really about finding time to patch together an alternative conclusion more favorable to police.

The IIO report concludes: “The evidence collected does not provide sufficient grounds to consider any charges against any officer. The evidence does offer support to the conclusion that the officers acted as required by their duties and in accordance with the law.

RCMP deputy commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr has lauded the work of new IIO chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald since he took over the post a year ago and says he has given her confidence that trust in the IIO will be renewed by police. This should given anyone concerned about police oversight and independent review great cause for concern.


ASIRT Investigating Death of Man During Police Encounter in Abbeydale, Northeast Calgary (Mar. 27, 2018)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating after a person, alleged to be a suspect in the shooting of a Calgary police officer, was found dead inside a house in which police had contained the person in the northeast Calgary neighborhood of Abbeydale. It has been reported that officers responded to an area near Abingdon Way NE at around 9:30 AM, March 27, on calls about a suspicious male. Near noon, there were reports of a shooting. In an update at 1:32 PM, Calgary police said that a “suspect” was found dead and they are not looking for any other suspects. The cop said to be shot was in stable condition at hospital. None of the police accounts have been independently verified publicly.


Windsor Police Victim Identified as Matthew Mahoney: Needed Health Care Not Cops

Family members have identified Matthew Mahoney as the 33-year-old man shot multiple times and killed by Windsor police on March 21, 2018. They say that he struggled with schizophrenia and other mental health issues.

In a interview with CBC News, older brother Michael Mahoney says a lack of resources in healthcare and limits to the legal system failed his brother. He also noted the inappropriateness and unsuitability of police dealing with mental health issues. In his words:

“Our police aren’t trained to deal with people who are suffering the way my brother is. That can make it really hard when they encounter someone like him. You’re not sure  if this person is dangerous or just needs a hug. I think my brother needed a hug that morning. I wish I could have been there.” (quoted in Taekema 2018)

 

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, confirmed on March 23 that Matthew Mahoney was shot by two officers who discharged firearms and “struck multiple times.” The SIU has identified eight witness officers in addition to the two subject officers, suggesting that at least ten officers confronted the victim on the street.

This leaves the family with many questions. Said Michael Mahoney:

“We definitely want to know what my brother was going through that morning. We want to know how the police became involved and we want to know that they did everything they could to deescalate the situation. Right now we’re just trying to focus on remembering Matthew the way we remember him and we’re trying not to think about that morning because your mind just races and there’s no answers right now.” (quoted in Taekema 2018)

 

He reports that his brother’s mental health struggles, developing as a teenager, worsened as he became an adult. While medications offered some help, he was extremely fearful of authorities, a not unreasonable feeling. Michael Mahoney relates:

“Being in the health care system can be extremely terrifying, extremely dangerous and he did everything in his life to try to avoid going back to hospital. Every decision he made was to try to avoid interactions with police or mental health services. They were his biggest fears.” (quoted in Taekema 2018)

Matthew Mahoney needed care and a hug not cops and bullets. Michael Mahoney is left to conclude: “The system just isn’t set up right to help people with extreme needs like my brother…This didn’t need to happen” (quoted in Taekema 2018). Even worse, in the end the system actively killed Matthew Mahoney.

 

Further Reading

Taekema, Dan. 2018. “Man Shot by Windsor Police Needed Help and a Hug, Not Bullets, Says Brother.” CBC News. March 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/matthew-mahoney-police-shooting-windsor-1.4590208


SIU: Windsor Man Killed by Police Shot Multiple Times by Two Officers

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has confirmed publicly that the 33-year-old man killed by Windsor police was shot multiple times by two officers who discharged their firearms. In a public release, the SIU states that it has identified two subject officers and eight witness officers. Witnesses report that they heard five shots fired. The man was shot and killed on the morning of March 21, 2018. Ten SIU investigators have been assigned to the case.


Windsor Police Shoot and Kill 33-Year-Old Man (Mar. 21, 2018)

Police in Windsor, Ontario shot and killed a 33-year-old man near a busy intersection in the city’s downtown on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Police were reportedly called to the area of University and Ouellette avenues at about 8:05 AM regarding a complaint involving a man. Finding a man who allegedly matched the description they had police confronted the man. During that confrontation police fired multiple rounds from a service pistol or pistols. It has note been reported publicly how many officers fired weapons. The man was struck by a shot or shots and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:29 AM.

One witness, John Hilt, relates that he was crossing Ouellette Avenue when he heard five gunshots. In his words, there was a pause between volleys fired: “I heard three shots plain as day, a break for about two seconds, then two more” (quoted in Taekema 2018). This could become an issue in the investigation if police fired after a pause when the man was already down and incapacitated.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines police harm to civilians is investigating. They have assigned six investigators and four forensic investigators to the killing. In a statement it claims that there was an interaction between the man and officers, and the man was shot at by police and struck. A post-mortem exam is scheduled for Thursday in London, Ontario.

 

Further Reading

Taekema, Dan. 2018. “Man Shot and Killed in Confrontation that Injured Officers.” CBC News. March 21. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/siu-police-incident-windsor-1.4585733


Man Dies During Arrest in South Surrey (Mar. 19, 2018)

A man died after going into medical distress during an arrest in South Surrey involving members of the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department (VPD) on the afternoon of March 19, 2018. Surrey RCMP report receiving multiple calls about a man apparently in some distress in the roadway near the intersection of 10 Avenue and 161A Street around 1:40 PM.

According to a media release by the Independent Investigations Office of BC, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, the man went into medical crisis when RCMP “tried to gain control and take him into custody.” The man had reportedly first been confronted by an off-duty VPD officer. Emergency Health Services arrived and attempted to provide aid but the man was declared dead around 3 PM.

Once again the question must be asked why police were the ones sent to interact with someone in personal distress but posing no threat to the public. Questions must be asked about the role the off-duty VPD officer played in confronting the man initially.