Tag Archives: Edmonton

Killer Cop Michelle Phillips Charged for Driving Over 41-Year-Old Man

It is among the rarest of a rarities. A police officer who kills a civilian actually being criminally charged with something. Anything. On Friday, June 16, 2017, killer cop Michelle Phillips, an RCMP constable in Alberta, was charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm for driving over and killing a 41-year-old pedestrian who had been injured in a prior collision and striking and seriously injuring a 71-year-old man who was helping the injured man. The crash and killing occurred on August 21, 2016, on Highway 881 near Anzac, Alberta, 420 kilometers north of Edmonton.

The charges were announced by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province. The ASIRT release described officer Phillips’ actions as follows:

 

“While responding at an extremely high rate of speed, the officer came upon a number of vehicles stopped on one side of the highway with their lights on and proceeded to drive past these vehicles without slowing. Unfortunately, this location was where the pedestrian had been originally struck and the officer ran over the injured pedestrian prone on the roadway with the police vehicle, killing him, and striking the hand of a 71-year-old man who had been rendering aid to the pedestrian, causing serious injury.”

 

An internal RCMP code of conduct review is underway and the officer, who had one year of service at the time of the deadly crash, has been suspended with pay. Phillips has been released on a promise to appear. She is set to appear in Fort McMurray provincial court on August 2, 2017.

This decision is, as all such decisions are, surprising given the state’s preference for protecting police. Of course this does not mean a conviction will result. ASIRT has been criticized recently for practices that appear to favor killer cops.


Bogus “Excited Delirium” Excuse Gets Killer Cops Off for 2015 Alberta Death

The finding of “excited delirium,” which makes its primary appearance in medical contexts usually only ever as justification for police killings of civilians, is an ideological tool used to excuse lethal police force. It has been used by police forces as a way to simultaneously blame victims for their own killings and give killer cops an answer where no real answer exists.

This dubious piece of copaganda has been offered up once again in Alberta to excuse Edmonton Police Service officers who killed a 25-year-old man on April 29, 2015. This despite well established debunking of the notion of excited delirium. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) offered the excited delirium defense in findings released on April 18, 2017, two years after the young victim died after being subjected to force by multiple officers while in police custody.

Sadly, the victim was targeted by police for the trivial act of supposedly trespassing in the City Centre Mall after nervous security staff called them. The security staff had tweaked to him because they suspected him of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. So an effort at moral regulation by private security ultimately resulted in a young man having his life taken by police. The ASIRT report added to the moral regulatory approach by suggesting the man had been uncooperative with police, saying he refused to follow directions.

For many police officers refusing to follow directions is an invitation to a beating or worse an extrajudicial execution. In this case ASIRT reports that at least four officers used force on the man supposedly to get him into restraints. After being violently removed from the mall and taken into Downtown Division the man was placed on the floor in the detention area. At this point Edmonton Police Services officers noticed he was unconscious, and in medical distress. Paramedics took the man to hospital but he could not be stabilized and was declared dead there.

Notably, the ASIRT reports makes clear that the man was acting in a way that suggested both to private security and police that his issue was health related not criminal. According to the ASIRT release the man “exhibited bizarre behaviour” (ASIRT). The report continues: “He was observed twisting and attempting to pull away. He was observed to be breathing heavily, mumbling and yelling, mostly incoherently” (ASIRT). Yet the intervention was, once again, repressive violence and thuggish force rather than health care.

This is a case in which private security and police intervene against someone who is, at most, dealing with substance abuse issues. Police should not be intervening in this situation. Yet they do so with force. And when force becomes lethal they turn to “excited delirium” in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable. And it routinely gets them off. And mainstream media repeat the claim uncritically.

 


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.


Edmonton Security Guard Sheldon Bentley Seeks Bail in Killing of Donald Doucette

This project has been primarily focused on formal, state, policing agencies and officers and their killings of civilians. Yet more and more policing is carried out by private forces, especially security guard services. And like the state policing forces their members kill. Yet private security is largely unregulated in Canada and have much leeway to act in unaccountable and largely unreported ways.

An Edmonton security guard, Sheldon Russell Bentley (35) is currently seeking bail after being charged with manslaughter and robbery for kicking an Edmonton man, Donald Doucette (51), to death and then robbing him.. Doucette, a culinary chef, was found in an alley next to the Lucky 97 grocery store in the afternoon of July 31, 2016. An autopsy showed Doucette died of blunt abdominal trauma.

Doucette had apparently passed out in the alley in before being approached by two security guards, one of whom was Sheldon Bentley. The charges claim Bentley kicked the passed out victim and stole $20 from him. The guards then simply went back to work.

Doucette’s has been struggling with alcohol for some time, a problem that family members say began in response to the death of his own father. He had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous as well as starting a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. In addition Doucette struggled with epilepsy. His family often worried that that he would fall down and have a seizure in a non-supportive environment.

Security guards exist only to protect private property and profits. They have no special mandate to act in public space.

As a range of private security forces take over urban space (from security guards to business association “ambassadors”) more attention must be given to them. And their actions must be increasingly observed and challenged. Some have taken to Cop Watch like counter-patrols of security guards and private security.


Edmonton Killer Cop Chris Luimes Had No Reason for Speeding When He Killed Annie Walden (84)

A disturbingly high number of civilians in Canada are killed by police officers who are speeding or driving recklessly. In most of those cases they are doing so without cause even on their own broad terms. Such was the case on March 8, 2012 when a speeding Constable Chris Luimes crashed his vehicle into a car driven by 84-year-old Annie Walden, killing her. This assessment comes from a senior officer, Brad Doucette, testifying at a fatality inquiry into the killing of Annie Walden which took place on March 14, 2017, an incredible five years after the fact. The inquiry which was scheduled for two days was completed in under three hours. Only two witnesses were called.

Constable Luimes was driving an unmarked police car at nearly 120 kilometers an hour to what was a non-emergency call. The speed limit on the road on which he was traveling was only 50 km/h. His car smashed into the Volkswagen Jetta driven by Annie Walden on 75th Street turning onto 76th Avenue. Walden died at the scene

Of course a civilian traveling at a rate of speed so much over the limit would be dealt with harshly. Let alone the response if they actually killed someone while doing so. Such is not the case where police speed and/or drive recklessly and kill a civilian. Luimes was charged with dangerous driving but once again a judge moved to ensure the killer officer would be taken good care of. The judge, stunningly, ruled that there was no enough evidence to convict the officer, despite a woman killed by his actions and the fact that he had no justifiable reason for driving the way he did, even by the low police department standards of the day.

One week ago, Luimes was found guilty of discreditable conduct in the incident during a police disciplinary hearing. Incredibly, the outcome was that he was ordered to participate in a video that will be used as part of mandatory police training. Constable Luimes still works with the Edmonton police force.


Vitaly Savin (55) Identified as Victim of Edmonton Police Shooting on March 9, 2017

Vitaly Savin (55) has been identified as the person shot and killed by an Edmonton police officer on March 9, 2017. Savin, a construction worker with an Edmonton home construction company was killed by an unnamed six-year veteran of the force during a traffic stop in southwest Edmonton on March 9, 2017.

Savin’s social media sites show that he worked as a mining engineer in Russia before moving to Edmonton. He had worked as a drill operator with construction company Great Canadian for eight years. Savin had made a post in support of a Russian team in a Europa League game only a half hour before he was killed (CBC News 2017).

A witness to the killing reported hearing the officer fire four shots at the time Savin was killed (Lepage 2017). An autopsy was scheduled for Friday, March 10, 2017.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2017. “Edmonton Man Fatally Shot by Police Identified as Construction Worker.” CBC News. March 10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/police-involved-shooting-victim-identity-1.4020052

Lepage, Michelle. 2017. “Hunting Knife Found Near Body of Man Shot Dead by Police.” Postmedia. March 10. http://cnews.canoe.com/CNEWS/Canada/2017/03/10/22709725.html


Edmonton Police Shoot and Kill Man During Traffic Stop (March 9, 2017)

An Edmonton police officer shot and killed a man during a traffic stop on the afternoon of March 9, 2017. Police claim that the officer, a six year veteran of the force, was dispatched to the Holland Landing area in southwest Edmonton in response to two 911 calls about a driver swerving on the road. Police also claim the vehicle was pulled over at 1:43 PM. It was during this stop that the police officer discharged his firearm hitting and killing the victim who was declared dead at the scene. There has been no independent confirmation of any of the information reported by police. Few details have been made available to the public and the name of the victim has not been released. The names of officers who kill civilians are rarely released publicly and even then typically only in instances where charges are laid.

The case has been turned over to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team which investigates instances of police harm to civilians in Alberta.