Michael David Perrault (31) was shot and killed by Edmonton Police Constable Wayne Haltli on May 18, 2015, during a traffic stop. A fatality inquiry that wrapped up over the last week of February 2018 made several recommendations focusing on the need to make crisis intervention and de-escalation training mandatory for police officers in Alberta. It was also recommended that Edmonton police pursue the “zero death” mandate arising from the inquiry into the killing of Sammy Yatim by Toronto police officer James Forcillo. Police are not required to adopt any of the recommendations and as is typically the case in such circumstances in Canada they will not do so here.
The inquiry reported that Michael David Perreault was in mental health crisis at the time police encountered and killed him. The inquiry also reported he had a long history of mental health issues and substance use troubles which may have been exacerbated by the health care system and doctors. He had been prescribed medications for a range of issues including depression and chronic pain from a number of accidents and workplace injuries.
Constable Haltli and his partner, Constable Jeffrey Park, were members of Edmonton’s Specialized Traffic Apprehension Team (STAT) when they responded to a 911 report of a suspected impaired driver in the city’s Beverly neighbourhood. Perreault’s car had stopped in the curb lane on Victoria Trail near 118 Avenue when the constables approached it. Constable Park reportedly reached into the car to try to take the keys out of the ignition when Perreault allegedly grabbed his arm. Park punched Perreault in the head several times during the encounter. It is alleged that at some point Perrault retrieved a shotgun and managed to shoot Park in the leg. It is claimed that he excited the vehicle when he was shot in the head and killed by Constable Haltli.
An investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, had already cleared the officers. ASIRT found, not surprisingly given their history, that the officers used reasonable force. No further word on whether punching someone repeatedly in the head over a traffic stop is reasonable force. Or a reasonable way to treat someone in distress.
Notably, Perrault had been targeted numerous times by Edmonton police officers and, perhaps quite justifiably, felt “cops hated him” and had singled him out for scrutiny, according to the inquiry report. The day of his killing he was apparently concerned that police were outside his home.
Very few details have been released publicly following the death of a man during an alleged standoff with officers of the Edmonton Police Service. Police engaged the man, allegedly armed, at a south Edmonton hotel beginning on the afternoon of Saturday, December 23, 2017. The encounter carried over into early Sunday morning, December, 24, and ended with thee man’s death.
Edmonton police report responding to a weapons complaint, not specified publicly, at the Royal Lodge Motel on Gateway Boulevard and 38 Avenue at about 2:20 PM, after an unnamed man was allegedly shot and taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Police began negotiating with another man, said to be the shooter, who was contained and alone in a hotel suite. The standoff ended at around 2:00 AM on December 24, with the death of the shooting suspect from undisclosed causes.
Police report that the Alberta Director of Law Enforcement has instructed them to investigate the incident because it involves an in-custody death. There is no suggestion that the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the institution that is supposed to investigate cases of police harm to civilians is or will be investigating this case. It has not been said publicly why police would be investigating police in this case.
None of the police claims have been independently confirmed publicly.
Edmonton police have been responsible for the deaths of several civilians over the last year. On September 9, 2017, they killed again. In this case they shot and killed a 29-year-old man in the parking lot at the Westmount Shopping Centre at approximately 8;15 PM. Police first boxed the man in in his vehicle. Shortly thereafter police shot and killed the man. Neighbors have reported hearing so much gunfire they thought there was an explosion. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) which investigates cases of police harm to civilians is investigating. No police have been reported as being injured. Police claim the man was wanted on an outstanding warrant but no details have been provided and this has not been independently confirmed.
Excited delirium is one of the favored excuses used by police and their statist supporters when officers kill civilians. It is an explanation considered dubious based on medical evidence and research and has been largely promoted by the makers of tasers as a means of justifying deaths that result after taser deployment. The condition excited delirium is not found in DSM-5 or the ICD-10 (the current versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases, respectively). Excited delirium has not been recognized by the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association. Police psychologist Mike Webster called it a dubious diagnosis during the inquiry into the RCMP killing of Robert Dziekanski by taser at Vancouver International airport.
Yet coroners and supposed police oversight bodies in Canada continue to use the notion of excited delirium to excuse or legitimize police killings of civilians. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) seems particularly fond of using these excuses to justify killings of civilians by police. On August 28, 2017, ASIRT again trotted out the excited delirium excuse to justify the police killing of a 49-year-old man, Marcel Henry Moisan, in the late evening/early morning of December 7-8, 2015, involving multiple taser deployments and physical restraint.
In a media release ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson claimed the victim died as a result of excited delirium syndrome brought on by drugs in his bloodstream (not the use of tasers and/or restraints). Incredibly Hughson congratulated the Edmonton police for their use of “less-than-lethal force.” In her words: “Indeed, the resort to less-than-lethal force should be commended.” But they killed the man. Their use of force was exactly, precisely, lethal. It was not less than lethal.
ASIRT noted that Moisan (not named in the report) was experiencing some mental distress, and police had a record of a Mental Health Act encounter with the man in October of the same year. Yet no mental health care givers were dispatched to the scene. According to Hughson the man was clearly exhibiting distress to officers present and appeared to be rehearsing self harm actions. In her words: “He brought the knife to his throat. He appeared agitated, distraught, and confused.” He made “overt suicidal motions” appearing to slash at his neck with a knife.
In response police tased him again and placed him in leg restraints. Notes Hughson, in her release: “Within approximately two minutes and 55 seconds, the man went into medical distress. The restraints were immediately removed and CPR was commenced.” The man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The coroner who repeated the bogus excited delirium excuse said: “It is the opinion of the [medical examiner] that the man died as a result of excited delirium syndrome that was due to methamphetamine toxicity; struggle during police restraint was considered a significant contributory condition.” Yet the police were exonerated despite acknowledgement of the use and role of restraints (the excusing of taser use is right out of the company playbook).
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the death of a 55-year-old woman in custody of the Edmonton police over the long weekend between August 6 and 7, 2017. The circumstances leading to the death were initiated in as little as a call about intoxication at a transit station. Why people call police over such things might be asked. On Sunday, August 6, police responded to the Belvedere LRT Station and “dealt with” three people who were allegedly intoxicated. A 55-year-old woman was arrested and taken into custody, being placed in a holding cell with other people at city police headquarters. She had initially been taken to the northeast division facility before being taken to police headquarters, but no explanation has been provided for why that move was made. Around 10 AM the next morning the woman was found unresponsive and in medical distress on the floor of the cell. ASIRT has reported that there were “no obvious signs of significant trauma or injury.” The woman was transported to hospital in critical condition by EMS crews and died there later that evening.
A police chase in Edmonton has left one man dead and a woman in hospital with life-threatening injuries. after a stolen truck involved in a police chase collided head-on with a car Monday evening. The pursuit started at around 8 PM on the evening of Monday, July 3, 2017 near 170th Street and 87th Avenue. Police apparently pursued the vehicle, a truck, west out of the city in the Winterburn Road area of the city. The truck is said to have collided head-on with a car on the exit ramp from Anthony Henday Drive southbound leading to Whitemud Drive westbound. The man driving the car died at the scene. A female passenger in the car was taken to hospital and suffers life-threatening injuries. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) mirrors other police oversight bodies in Canada in routinely and regularly letting police officers off the hook when they kill civilians. It is rare that they find against officers and rare that they recommend charges befitting the actions of officers. On June 13, 2017 ASIRT announced that they will not recommend charges against Edmonton police officers in the death of a 46-year-old man who died during a rough ride in a police van.
The incident followed the man’s arrest on October 25, 2015. Incredibly, the man had been jumped and held for police by members of the public who believed he had damaged cars in the area in north Edmonton. The man was initially taken to hospital but then released back into police custody. The following day the man was denied bail and was to be returned to the remand centre. Police put him on his back in the prisoner transport van with his legs elevated. Only a few blocks later, Edmonton police officers found the man unresponsive and not breathing.An autopsy later determined that the man died as a result of cardiac arrest.
Toxicology results found there to be no alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medications in his bloodstream denying police some version of the “excited delirium” excuse. It turns out they did not need it.
According to ASIRT, the officers were performing the lawful execution of their duties. This should be a reminder that for police lawful execution of their duties includes lawful execution of civilians.