An Abbotsford Police officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing related to a September 2020 incident outside the Cabela’s store when she shot a man who had pepper-sprayed her.
Chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) concluded in a recently released report that the officer was justified in firing her gun and that the use of force was not excessive.
The IIO is a civilian agency that investigates officer-related incidents resulting in serious harm or death.
The incident occurred Sept. 11, 2020, when police received a 911 call from Cabela’s that two men were in the process of shoplifting a cart filled with ammunition.
The first officer to arrive on scene stopped her vehicle in front of the store as the two men were leaving. As they were running away, one of the men turned around and pepper-sprayed the officer, the report states.
The report says the suspect briefly ran away but returned and began grappling with the officer from behind, “possibly attempting to take her firearm.”
The general consensus from witnesses who were interviewed is that the officer fired her gun twice – when the suspect first ran at her firing bear spray into the face and again when she was able to free herself during their brief struggle.
The suspect fell to the ground, pulled out a knife and began crawling towards the officer. Two civilians stood on either side of the officer to assist her.
Other officers arrived on the scene, and one fired two rounds from an Arwen weapon before the suspect dropped the knife and was arrested. He was taken to hospital, where he was treated for spinal injuries.
The report states that forensic examination later showed that the officer had fired five rounds in total, and two of them struck the suspect.
The IIO investigation involved statements from 20 civilian witnesses, six first responders and eight police officers. Other evidence included CCTV and cellphone footage and photographs.
“The situation provided (the officer) with a very significant risk, which justified the discharge of the officer’s pistol at (the suspect). At no point was the (officer’s) use of force either unjustified or excessive,” MacDonald concluded in his report.
The two men involved both later pleaded guilty to their charges. Andrew Edmunds was sentenced to three months in jail for theft and two months for possession of a firearm contrary to an order.
John Moon received an additional year in jail (on top of time already served) for theft, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, and attempting to take the weapon of a peace officer.