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Alberta Mountie facing assault charge stemming from 2023 wildfire evacuation theft arrest

An RCMP officer has been charged with assault causing bodily harm in connection with the arrest of a person suspected of stealing a pickup truck in the Drayton Valley area while the central Alberta town was under a wildfire evacuation order last year.

On May 4, 2023, Drayton Valley and surrounding communities were evacuated because of the threat posed by wildfires in the region. The evacuation order was partially lifted on May 16.

In a news release issued Friday, police said the alleged assault occurred during that time in which the area was under an evacuation order.

“During the 2023 wildfire season, members of the central Alberta crime reduction unit were assigned to investigate a small group of … (people) that were believed to be committing thefts in the Drayton Valley area during evacuations,” the RCMP said.

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On May 9, the RCMP said members of the same unit found a pickup truck that had been reported stolen and which they said “had fled police and subsequently rolled in the ditch near Breton.”

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“The suspect was arrested and taken to hospital for treatment of an injury obtained during the rollover,” police said. “After the arrest of the suspect, concerns were raised about the conduct of one of the arresting officers.”

The RCMP said it contacted the director of law enforcement about the concerns on May 17. The director determined the incident was out of the scope of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team and instructed the RCMP to investigate the concerns.

On March 1, the RCMP charged Cpl. Bruce Lussier, 42, with assault causing bodily harm. His next court appearance is scheduled to take place in Breton on April 10.

“In light of these charges, Cpl. Lussier has been placed on administrative duties,” the RCMP said.

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