No charges for Winnipeg police officer who fatally shot armed man five times: police watchdog

Manitoba’s police watchdog says there are no grounds for charges against a Winnipeg police officer who fatally shot a man five times while responding to a report of an assault last spring.

On Thursday, The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) released its final report into the fatal police shooting of a man in the Maples neighbourhood in the early morning hours of April 18, 2020.

The IIU said police had been called to the area of Adsum Drive shortly after 4:00 a.m. for a report that a man had been assaulted by two people – one armed with a handgun and the other with a shovel – who had threatened to rob him while he had been throwing out his garbage.

According to IIU investigators’ interviews with Winnipeg police told the IIU when officers arrived in the area they confronted two people – a man and a youth.

One of the witnesses who spoke to IIU investigators said he was woken up around 4:15 a.m. when he heard smashing sounds and a voice yell out, “show me your hands, show me your hands.” He said he did not hear any response, and then he heard gunshots followed by someone saying, “show me your hands,” two more times.

The IIU said while the officer who shot the man refused to attend an interview with IIU investigators, he did provide notes and a prepared statement to the IIU.

The IIU said in the statement, the officer said he and a Winnipeg police K9 handler were on the scene responding to the call and confronted two people walking down a back lane between Pipeline Road and Larter Crescent.

Believing these two people to be the ones in the robbery, the officer said he drew his gun. He said one of the people had a metal bar and was swinging it towards the officers.

The K9 handler told IIU investigators he did not deploy his police dog because he feared the person would kill the dog with the metal pipe.

The officer said he gave verbal commands for the person to drop the bar, but said when the person took a few steps towards him, he fired his gun.

The IIU investigation found the officer fired his gun five times, hitting the man in the chest. The man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The post-mortem report concluded the man’s death was the result of five gunshot wounds.

The IIU said the investigation into the shooting included an expert opinion on the use of force that said the subject officer, “used an appropriate intervention in consideration of the totality of the circumstances before him. The force utilized was not in excess of that which was necessary.”

The IIU said the Manitoba Prosecution Service reviewed the investigation and said it was not satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction. The IIU said, therefore, there are no grounds to justify any charges against the officer.

‘VERY DISTURBING’: MKO GRAND CHIEF RESPONDS TO IIU INVESTIGATION

The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) identified the man who had been shot and killed as 22-year-old Stewart Andrews.

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said he met with Andrews’ family and the IIU earlier in the week to discuss the investigation.

“I find this very troubling and very disturbing,” he said.

Settee said he still has many questions about why the Winnipeg police dog was not deployed.

“I firmly believe that if the police dog was deployed, Stuart Andrews would be alive today had there been the use of non-lethal tactics,” he said.

“It is very disheartening and devastating to think that a police dog is more valuable than an Indigenous man.”

Settee called for Indigenous oversight in IIU investigations. 

You can read the full report here: 

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