Regina police shoot, wound fleeing suspect
REGINA - The 34-year-old driver of a vehicle suspected in a break and enter was shot and wounded Saturday by a Regina police officer who had laid down a spike belt to try to stop the vehicle.
Elizabeth Popowich, a spokeswoman for the Regina Police Service, said the driver of the vehicle, an aboriginal man from Fort Qu'Appelle, received serious injuries when he was shot by the 39-year-old male officer.
The suspect was then taken to hospital where he's in serious condition.
The officer was treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries and released.
Many circumstances of the shooting and how the officer was injured are still under investigation, Popowich said.
Around 8 a.m., police spotted a vehicle they suspected had been involved in a break and enter at a business early Saturday morning.
"Over the course of the next few minutes...the vehicle is seen a number of times in the neighbourhood by a number of police members and there are some attempts made to stop the vehicle," she said.
Popowich said the police officer then laid down a spike belt on the road in a north-central neighbourhood to try and stop the lone driver.
Police are still trying to determine what happened next.
"All this is subject to investigation, but we know that our police member discharged a firearm at the driver of the vehicle. The vehicle carried on for a short distance, about a block, and a 34-year-old male was taken into custody and then immediately taken to hospital by EMS for treatment of serious injuries," she said.
The suspect's vehicle struck several objects, she said, including a fence and the front step of a home.
Murray Rowe, the force's acting police chief, told CTV Regina that officers did not fire immediately. He said the vehicle drove at one officer, who did not fire his weapon, and then drove away.
"And then, again, the same suspect vehicle took a run at this police officer, who then discharged his firearm in defence of his life."
Popowich said because the investigation is still unfolding, she couldn't be specific about how the officer may have been injured.
"It's an injury sustained in this incident but not firearm-involved. He wasn't shot," Popowich said.
The officer has been with the police force for 13 years.
Two other people have also been arrested in connection with the break and enter, she said.
The Major Crimes Unit is investigating the shooting, along with the Forensic Identification Unit, and Popowich is encouraging any witnesses to the incident to come forward.
"They may not have a complete picture of what occurred, but they may be able to add a very pertinent piece of information," she said.
Rowe, acting police chief, said someone from the RCMP had been named to oversee the investigation.
The police service doesn't automatically put officers involved in such incidents on administrative leave, Popowich said.
An internal investigation will also be done because the officer fired his gun in the incident.
"We need to do an investigation that looks into use of force by a police officer using a firearm that causes injury," Popowich said.
A decision on whether to involve an outside police agency could come later, she said, depending on the findings of their investigations.
Popowich said the last time a Regina police officer was involved in a shooting was in September 1998, when Josh Engdahl, 16, was shot and killed after lunging at an officer with a knife.
She said a coroner's inquest later recommended enhanced training for police officers dealing with those with mental illness.
There've been a number of police-involved shootings in Saskatchewan recently involving aboriginal suspects.
Last year, Saskatoon police shot two suspects within days of each other, after they say officers were threatened with knives.
Dwayne Charles Dustyhorn, 38, was shot and killed by officers, while a female suspect was shot and wounded about a week later in a separate incident.
In June, Lawrence Joseph, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, criticized RCMP in the province, accusing them of "Rambo-style policing" after they shot and killed an aboriginal man on a reserve southeast of Regina.