One man is dead after an RCMP officer fatally shot him Saturday night near Pigeon Lake's Ma-Me-O Beach, about 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
Clifton Purvis, head of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), said an officer from the Wetaskiwin detachment pulled over five men in a vehicle to conduct an impaired driving investigation around 9:30 p.m. local time.
Purvis said the uniformed officer, who was working alone in a marked police vehicle, then became involved in an altercation with the five men.
"The RCMP attempted to arrest one individual in relation to the impaired driving investigation and it is at that point that the confrontation with the other four males inside the vehicle occurred," he said.
The officer, feeling threatened, then drew his police service weapon and fired several shots.
A 30-year-old man was fatally wounded and pronounced dead at the scene. A 41-year-old man was sent to Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital where he is currently in stable condition. Both men are from Pigeon Lake.
The three other men from the vehicle are now in RCMP custody.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team – an independent body that investigates incidents involving serious injury or death that may relate to the actions of a police officer – has been called in to investigate.
The RCMP will also be conducting their own investigation into the shooting.
Purvis said the RCMP cruiser was fitted with a video camera, which will help with both investigations.
Third ASIRT investigation in three days
This is the third time ASIRT has been called upon to investigate officer-related incidents this week in Alberta, and the second situation to involve a fatality.
A second man has died one day after an altercation with three RCMP officers in Leduc, said Purvis.
The officers involved in Friday's incident used a taser to subdue the man, who RCMP say was linked to a series of thefts and assaults. An autopsy in now scheduled to determine the cause of death.
On Thursday, a man was shot during an altercation with two RCMP officers near Grande Cache. He is now in stable condition, said Purvis, adding that the injured man is also facing charges in that incident.
Purvis said three ASIRT teams, including one team brought from Calgary, have been assigned to investigate the three RCMP-involved incidents.
"I can tell you that Albertans should be confident we will conduct a thorough, independent investigation into all three of these incidents," he said, adding that the RCMP have been co-operating fully with ASIRT's independent investigations.
For now, Purvis is unable to estimate how long ASIRT's investigations will take.
"I'm acutely aware that it's really important to try to get these investigations done really quickly — but it's more important that we conduct a thorough investigation," he said, adding, "I don't anticipate we would conclude any of these investigations within the next number of months."
In the meantime, however, he says Albertans do not need to worry about their safety with regards to interacting with members of the RCMP.
"I don't think, generally speaking, the public needs to worry about being stopped. In fact, I think probably in Canada we are one of the very few jurisdictions worldwide where your first reaction when you get pulled over by police isn't fear — it's 'oh gosh, I got a ticket,'" he said.
"We're unique in Canada in that regard — and I think we have to work to make sure that we maintain that level of confidence in policing."
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