Tag Archives: Calgary

No Judicial Review of Decision Not to Lay Charges in Police Killing of Anthony Heffernan

Anthony Heffernan was alone in his hotel room, holding a syringe, and posing no threat to the public or police, when Calgary police officers broke down the door to the room, burst in, and shot the 27-year-old four times, twice in the head. The officer in question fired six time in total that day in March 2015. The syringe Heffernan was holding had no needle attached. Despite the fact that the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines case of police harm to civilians in Alberta, found that there were grounds to charge the officer responsible criminally, the Crown prosecutors decided not to lay charges.

On January 10, 2018, Anthony Heffernan’s parents found out that their bid to have a judicial review of the decision not to lay charges in the case was not granted. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Henderson ruled that there is no evidence to support the parents’ allegation that there was an abuse of process by the Crown.

This does not answer why the Crown chose not to follow the ASIRT recommendation to charge the officer nor does it explain how breaking down a door and firing six shots at someone for holding a piece of plastic is justifiable or reasonable force, or does anything to protect the public. The state protects the state.

The Heffernan family had argued that the officer fired recklessly and wildly. They have filed a lawsuit against the police service.

The Calgary police force had been involved in six fatal police shootings over two years in 2015 and 2016.


Police-Involved Deaths in Canada in 2017: What Little We Know

There is no formal, systematic process for documenting and recording the deaths of civilians through encounters with police in Canada. There is no systematic reporting publicly of civilian deaths through police encounters. A baseline or minimum number of people who died through police encounters can be arrived at by review of oversight agency reports, coroners inquest reports, and close following of media articles. Here is some of the very limited information of what we know about 65 reported deaths. Much more needs to be known and should be made public.

 

  1. Amleset Haile. Female. 60. January 2. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Self-inflicted. (Black woman).
  2. Jimmy Cloutier. Male. 38. January 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot.
  3. Ralph Stevens. Male. 27. January 7. Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
  4. Nadia Racine. Female. 34. January 25. Gatineau, Quebec. Gatineau Police. In-custody.
  5. Male. 20. February 11. Goodfare, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
  6. Male. No Age Given. February 12. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. In-custody.
  7. Moses Amik Beaver. Male. 56. February 13. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous Man).
  8. Female. 20. March 6. Burlington, Ontario. Halton Regional Police Service.
  9. Male. 28. March 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Heart attack.
  10. Vitaly Savin. Male. 55. March 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
  11. Male. 20. March 18. Pond Inlet. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
  12. Male. March 24. 61. Chateauguay, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec.
  13. Male. 40. April 1. Kelowna, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  14. Male. 24. April 28. Puvirnituq, Quebec. Kativik Regional Police Force. In-custody.
  15. Male. 39. May 2. Hall Beach. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
  16. Male. 32. May 13. Fort McMurray, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
  17. Male. 41. May 15. Beauceville, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  18. Male. 26. May 22. Cambridge, Ontario.
  19. Female. No Age Given. May 27. Oak Bay, British Columbia. Victoria Police.
  20. Male. 43. June 3. Smith Falls, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Self-inflicted.
  21. Male. 31. June 3. Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa Police Service. Shot.
  22. Male. No Age Given. June 18. Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot
  23. Austin Eaglechief. Male. 22. June 19. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Police. Shot.
  24. Pierre Coriolan. Male. 58. June 27. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot. (Black man).
  25. Male. No Age Given. July 3. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Vehicle chase.
  26. Male. No Age Given. July 5. Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. RCMP. Self-inflicted.
  27. Male. No Age Given. July 9. Quebec City, Quebec. Quebec City Police. Shot.
  28. Dale Culvner. Male. 35. July 18. Prince George, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  29. Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay. Male. 50. July 19. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous man).
  30. Shawn Davis. Male. 52. July 26. Chatham, Ontario. Chatham Police. “Sudden Death.”
  31. Male. 66. July 30. Pointe-Calumet, Quebec. Vehicle chase.
  32. Male. 25. August 10. Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  33. Female. 55. August 7. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
  34. Male. 23. August 20. La Sarre, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  35. Male. No Age Given. August 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. In-custody.
  36. Ozama Shaw. Male. 15. July 27. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Region Police. Shot. (Black youth).
  37. Male. 48. September 4. Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury Police. In-custody.
  38. Female. 26. September 4. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
  39. Unnamed Male. 26. September 6. Whitefish Lake First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot.
  40. Female. 46. September 9. Indian Head, Saskatchewan. RCMP. In-custody.
  41. Male. 29. September 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
  42. Adrian Lacquette. 23. September 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
  43. Male. 34. September 15. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
  44. Male. 33. September 23. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
  45. Sheila Walsh. Female. 65. September 25. Arnprior, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Vehicle chase.
  46. Female. No Age Given. October 2. Quesnel, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  47. Nathan Wehlre. Male. 15. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
  48. Taryn Hewitt. Female. 16. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
  49. Cody Severight. Male. 23. October 10. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Hit and run, officer DUI.
  50. Male. 35. October 12. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot.
  51. Cavin Poucette. Male. 26. October 19. Gleichen, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
  52. Brydon Bryce Whitstone. Male. 22. October 22. North Battleford, Saskatchewan. (Indigenous man).
  53. Tom Ryan. Male. 70. October 27. Cobourg, Ontario. Cobourg Police Service. Shot.
  54. Male. 44. October 31. Brampton, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. During arrest.
  55. Male. 23. November 8. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody.
  56. Bill Saunders. Male. 18. November 15. Lake Manitoba First Nation, Manitoba. Shot.
  57. Male. 57. November 26. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. In-custody.
  58. David Tshitoya Kalubi. Male. 23. November 24. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody. (Black youth).
  59. Male. 52. December 6. Douglas, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
  60. Male. 25. December 13. Maple, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Shot.
  61. Babak Saidi. Male. 43. December 23. Morrisburg, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
  62. Male. December 24. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
  63. Male. 22. December 28. Umiujaq, Quebec. Shot.
  64. Male. 36. December 28. Danford Lake, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot
  65. Male. No Age Given. December 30. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. Shot.

 

 


RCMP Kill Person During Traffic Stop in Gleichen, Alberta (Oct. 19, 2017)

An RCMP office shot and killed the occupant of a car during a traffic stop in Gleichen, Alberta, about 90 kilometers southeast of Calgary, in the early morning of October 19, 2017. Few details have been released publicly. Police report that two RCMP officers conducted a traffic stop at around 4 AM. During the stop they allegedly saw a firearm in the vehicle and while attempting to arrest the person an officer shot and  killed them. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which examines cases of police harm to civilians, is investigating the killing.


Repeat Killer Cop, Other Officers Cleared in Killing David McQueen, Quadriplegic in Wheelchair

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the unit that investigates police harm to civilians, has cleared the repeat killer cop and the other Calgary police officers who shot and killed David McQueen, a 53-year-old quadriplegic man in a wheelchair, on January 24, 2016. ASIRT reported that several officers opened fire on McQueen with the last round fired , a bullet from a sniper, striking him in the head and killing him, but said the officers involved were fully justified in the killing. Police had reportedly responded to reports of McQueen firing a round from inside his house. Police fired tear gas into McQueen’s house driving him outside where they shot and killed him.

The killing of McQueen, quadriplegic with limited use of hands, in a wheelchair in his home, experiencing some mental distress has raised many disturbing questions. One of these relates to the fact that a officer who shot at McQueen was a killer cop who had committed a fatal shooting only a year before. That officer shot 27-year-old Anthony Heffernan four times, with three shots to the head and neck, on March 16, 2015. Heffernan had also been in some distress but was alone and confined to his hotel room and posed no threat to anyone, police or public, when police broke into his room and shot and killed him there.

The ASIRT investigation into Heffernan’s killing actually found evidence that an offense had been committed by police. The Crown claimed that there was not enough evidence to gain a conviction against the officer and did not pursue charges. The state certainly protects the state. The Heffernan family is suing Calgary police over the killing of their loved one.

In the ASIRT release on the McQueen killing, Susan Hughson, executive director of ASIRT, suggested that the killer cop’s involvement in the Heffernan case has no bearing on his right to use his firearm in another case. According to Hughson:

 

“You have to look at the incidents independently and look at the circumstances surrounding them to determine whether the steps taken or the actions taken were justified. And, just because the officer has been involved in another officer-involved shooting, he does not lose the protection of the law.”

 

Protection to kill civilians? Others might ask why the officer was still on the force and being deployed in such situations of a person in distress.

Director Hughson, noted McQueen’s distress: “There’s no doubt that this man was in crisis on this date.” Hughson noted that McQueen had been “struggling physically, emotionally and financially” in the days prior to his being killed by police. He has been particularly upset by the death of his beloved dog only the week before. Disturbingly ASIRT appeared to use this fact to make reference to a bogus “suicide by cop” defense for the police killing of David McQueen.

 


ASIRT Stats Show Large Increases in Police Violence, Lethal Force in Alberta

Statistics released by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) show a troubling steady increase in major police-involved incidents of violence, including police killings of civilians over the last decade.

In 2008, the year ASIRT began operations there were 10 cases of police violence that resulted in death or serious injury. In 2016, there were 42 such incidents. These include a range of police actions: police shootings, vehicle pursuits and collisions, use-of-force incidents with no weapon, and injuries caused by use of tasers and police dogs. The ASIRT statistics show nine police shootings that caused death or serious injury in 2013, 10 in 2014, 13 in 2015, and nine in 2016.

As of mid-April, 2017 there are nine police-involved incidents of death or serious injury under investigation in the province; three in Edmonton, three in Calgary, and three in RCMP jurisdictions. Of the three fatalities, one was in Edmonton, involving the Edmonton police department and the other two were RCMP cases. Edmonton has had three police shootings of civilians in March 2017 alone. One was the fatal police shooting of Vitaly Savin, a 55-year-old construction worker with no criminal record, who was targeted by police simply for supposedly driving erratically.

 

Police Incidents Involving Death or Serious Injury (By Year)

Year       Incidents

2008       10

2009       20

2010       18

2011       25

2012       18

2013       27

2014       31

2015       48

2016       42

 

Calgary police had a brutal year in 2016. The Calgary Police Services were responsible for a total of 10 police shootings that year. This stands as the highest total of police shootings of any city in the country. Five of the shootings were fatal and two caused injury. To his discredit the Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin has threatened retribution against whistleblowers in the department who speak to media and has blamed the police violence on a drug panic of his own creation.

Edmonton’s Acting Chief Kevin Brezinski has tried to blame a vaguely constructed “organized crime” and strangely a supposed increase in home invasions. It is not clear how this would have anything to do with his force’s killing of Vitaly Savin for supposed erratic driving.


Anthony Heffernan’s Family Files Lawsuit against Killer Cop McLoughlin and Calgary Police Service

As has been documented numerous times on this site the families of people killed by police in Canada are routinely denied even basic information about the police actions in which their loved ones were killed. This includes information about the officers directly responsible for the killings. The situation is not addressed through provincial investigation units since killer cops are not required to provide statements to such units and, of course, typically choose not to.  Thus families are left with no recourse but to file lawsuits against killer cops and the forces that protect them in order to gain even basic insights into the events that took their loved ones’ lives.

The family of Anthony Heffernan, killed by a multiple killer cop two years ago, has had to take the route of a lawsuit against the Calgary Police Service (CPS) in an attempt to find answers that have so far been denied to them. They also hope the lawsuit will result in changes to the department and prevent similar killings. The lawsuit is seeking $225,000 to cover the cost of Anthony Heffernan’s funeral, lost wages, and grief counseling required by the family. In August of 2016, the Heffernan family found out that the officer who killed Anthony would not face any charges. A statement of claim in the lawsuit argues there “was an excessive and unlawful use of force” in Anthony Heffernan’s killing. In the lawsuit the family also claim that some or all of the service members involved in the incident created notes and reports that were “false, misleading, containing omissions or exaggerations” (quoted in Potkin 2017). The family is also appealing the decision not to bring charges.

Anthony Heffernan was tasered and shot four times and killed by an officer after police broke into the hotel room in which the young man was staying in the city’s northeast in March 2015. All of this happened within 72 seconds of police entering the room (Potkins 2017). He was alone in the room and posed no threat to anyone outside the room, certainly he posed no threat to the public. He did not leave the room and posed no threat officers or anyone else in the hallway. The officer who killed Anthony Heffernan was not suspended and killed another man while on duty only a few months after the Heffernan killing.

Grant Heffernan, Anthony’s brother, explains the lawsuit as follows: “The point is we want is police accountability for their actions. It’s not about the money. It’s about hopefully going to trial and getting unanswered questions that we’ve had from the beginning” (quoted in CTV 2017).

The defendants listed in the lawsuit include former interim police chief Paul Cook along with five CPS members. Four of the officers are identified as John Doe while one officer is identified as Constable McLoughlin (no first name), said to be the killer cop. Patrick Heffernan, Anthony’s father, notes that police have never identified who the five officers at and the family only learned the surname of the killer cop McLoughlin through ASIRT (Potkin 2017).

In yet another of the numerous cases in which the courts protect killer cops, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) ruled that there was potential for charges in the killing of Anthony Heffernan only to see prosecutors not bring charges because they were of the view that there was  “no reasonable likelihood of conviction” (Potkins 2017). ASIRT concluded that Heffernan had his hands in the air at the time police shot and killed him.

The Heffernan family notes, with disappointment, that while the ASIRT investigation included statements from four of the officers in the room when Anthony was killed it did not include statements from the officer who killed their loved one. While they, like other family members of victims of police killings, cannot believe this was not part of the investigation it is, in fact a protection all killer cops enjoy.

The family hopes that the civil suit will finally ensure that the officer provides a first-hand account of why he shot Anthony multiple times.

 

Further Reading

CTV. 2017. “The Family of a Man Shot and Killed by Police is Suing Calgary Police” CTV News Calgary. April 11. http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/the-family-of-a-man-shot-and-killed-by-police-is-suing-calgary-police-1.3364792

Potkin, Meghan. 2017. “Anthony Heffernan’s Family Suing Calgary Police.” Calgary Herald. April 10. http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/heffernan-family-suing-calgary-police-for-more-than-40000-after-fatal-shooting


Calgary Police Kill Again: Woman is Fifth Civilian Killed in 2016

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.

 

Lacking Credibility

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.

 

Further Reading

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