Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team [ASIRT] has released details in the tragic incident that left a Gift Lake man and an RCMP Police Service Dog dead.

On June 17, ASIRT was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding an encounter between members of the RCMP and Lionel Ernest Grey, 29, that took place that same day near High Prairie.

ASIRT issued a news release June 21 saying the incident was ongoing when the matter was assigned to them.

“And while the man was not believed to have sustained any injuries, ASIRT was directed to investigate on the basis that police officers had discharged their service firearms,” reads the news release.

Following the assignment of the matter to ASIRT, RCMP officers continued to search for Grey. On June 18, Grey appeared at a containment point and a confrontation occurred during which officers discharged their firearms, fatally injuring the man.

“ASIRT’s investigation will examine not only the first encounter that resulted in the discharge of service weapons but also the circumstances surrounding the death of the man during the final encounter,” reads the news release.

The incident began on June 17 at about 10:57 a.m., when a fully-marked RCMP unit initiated a traffic stop on a red Cadillac which was associated with Grey, who was wanted on outstanding criminal warrants. The Cadillac fled from police, who did not pursue the vehicle. The RCMP officers who had attempted the traffic stop broadcast for other officers to be on the lookout for the vehicle, and at about 11:30 a.m., a different RCMP unit located the Cadillac just east of Range Road 175 about 3 km north of Highway 679. The vehicle was stuck in the mud and partially covered with a blanket.

Two RCMP officers cleared the vehicle, which was unoccupied, and found a bag containing three different types of ammunition, as well as identification belonging to the man.

Two additional police officers, one of them a Police Service Dog [PSD] handler, attended the location. The PSD established a track and all four officers and the police dog began tracking east into thick bush for approximately 3-6 km over about two hours.

“When the officers eventually encountered the man, whose identity was visually confirmed as [Grey], the man and police exchanged gunfire,” reads the news release.

“During this incident, the PSD was struck by gunfire and killed.”

No police officers were injured during the incident, nor was Grey believed to have been struck.

The officers received direction to disengage, and were removed from the area by a civilian Search and Rescue helicopter.

Additional police resources were deployed to the area, including members of the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team [ERT]. ERT members attended to the area of the initial incident, and again encountered Grey.

“During this encounter, several police officers discharged their firearms. At the time, the officers believed the man had been struck. After attempts to communicate with the man or force him out of the thick bush were unsuccessful, a physical search of the area was conducted, but failed to locate the man,” says ASIRT.

After a lengthy search through dense brush spanning several hours, police made contact with Grey on two additional occasions, and issued verbal commands to him. No shots were fired during these encounters, and officers were able to establish that the man did not, in fact, appear to be injured.

Police established containment around the roads in the area and continued searching for the man.

On June 18, at about 11:45 a.m., two RCMP officers who were assigned to maintain containment spotted the man in a ditch on the west side of Range Road 170, about 2 km north of Township Road 770. The officers exited their marked police vehicle and a confrontation occurred between the man and the police officers, during which both officers discharged their service firearms.

“The man fell to the ground in the tall grass, and additional police officers and ERT medical officers responded to the area,” says ASIRT.

“Medical officers attempted to treat the man, but ultimately he died at the scene.”

A loaded semi-automatic .22-calibre rifle, as well as a range finder, were recovered from the incident scene and have been seized as exhibits.

ASIRT’s investigation will examine the actions of police during the incident, while the RCMP will maintain responsibility for the investigation of the man and his actions.

As ASIRT’s investigation is underway, no further information will be released at this time.

ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.

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