No charges laid against 2 Winnipeg officers who fatally shot man 13 times

Manitoba’s police watchdog says it won’t recommend charges against two Winnipeg police officers who fatally shot a man 13 times last August as the man came after them with a baseball bat. 

The shooting happened just after 2 a.m. on August 27, 2022, in the back lane near Bernier Bay in the city’s Windsor Park neighborhood, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which is mandated to investigate all serious incidents involving police in the province. 

Police had been pursuing the man after he ignored instructions to stop on Portage Avenue near Polo Park Shopping Centre, according to the report.

The car, a Chevrolet Camaro SS, kept driving westbound on Portage before heading south on Kenaston Boulevard, and the police helicopter began monitoring it.

After the car pulled up to at the back of a house linked to the Camaro’s registered owner on Bernier Bay, two police cruisers also pulled up, with one police cruiser blocking the Camaro from exiting the driveway. 

An aerial view of a backlane, with a red car parked in a driveway and two police SUVs blocking its exit.
An aerial view of the backlane of Bernier Bay in the Independent Investigation Unit report shows where the police shooting occurred. (Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba)

According to the police watchdog’s final report on the shooting, the Camaro driver exited the vehicle armed with a baseball bat and charged at the first officer he saw. 

The officer deployed his Taser twice to disarm the man, but that failed to incapacitate him, so the officer ran away down the back lane and the man chased after him while still holding the bat. 

A second officer tried to distract the man by driving his police SUV toward him, at which time the man with the bat ran back to his parked vehicle, the report says. 

Both officers followed the man back to his car with their firearms drawn. 

Man refused to drop weapon

In their prepared statements, both officers said the man continued to advance toward them with a baseball bat and refused to listen to calls to drop his weapon. 

The officers say they fired at the man, but he still continued to charge forward with the bat. The officers fired more rounds, and the man fell backward and dropped his bat. 

Police provided first aid to the man and called for an ambulance, which transported him to Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, where he died from his injuries. 

An examination of the scene and analysis of the two officers’ pistols determined that the first officer fired 11 rounds while the second officer fired three that morning. 

A white police forensics van is parked in a back lane.
The Winnipeg Police Service’s forensic identification unit was on scene in a back lane near Bernier Bay last August. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

An autopsy of the man who was shot determined he sustained 13 gunshot wounds in total, Toxicology results showed he had a blood alcohol content of 154 mg per 100 ml — nearly twice the legal limit — with trace amounts of THC and common ingredients found in cough syrup. 

In his report, the Independent Investigation Unit’s civilian director Zane Tessler said it was “extremely difficult” to discern a rational explanation for the man’s actions. 

Tessler said that while the circumstances of the man’s death are tragic, the potential for more serious injuries or death were high as the man’s decision to arm himself with a bat and charge at officers was “unexplained and dangerous.”

Because of this, he said he found that the use of lethal force was justified by law and there were no reasonable grounds to support any charges against the two officers. 

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