No charges for Calgary police in shooting of Latjor Tuel: ASIRT

The daughter of a South Sudanese man who was fatally shot by Calgary Police says she and her family are still left searching for answers, after Alberta’s police watchdog stated the actions of the officers were justified. Jayden Wasney reports.

Alberta’s police watchdog says Calgary police were justified in fatally shooting a South Sudanese man during an assault call in Forest Lawn more than two years ago.

In the report, released Friday, Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) executive director, Michael Ewenson, said 41-year-old Latjor Tuel put the lives of police officers at risk if they didn’t act.

“They were required or authorized by law to control [Tuel] and acted reasonably in doing so,” he wrote. “Their uses of force were proportionate, necessary, and reasonable.

“As a result, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed.”

ASIRT says on Feb. 19, 2022, Tuel was threatening and attacking people on 17 Avenue SE with a walking stick and knife.

Several calls were made to police, who showed up to the scene in large numbers.

Ewenson concluded responding officers tried to de-escalate the situation by talking to Tuel and having his friend talk to him, but he didn’t drop his weapons after repeated requests.

He went on to say about 15 minutes after police arrived, Tuel started to move toward the officers and one officer fired two ‘less-lethal’ baton rounds at him. Tuel then ran at the officers while still armed, and attacked a police service dog that was within metres of him.

Tuel was then tasered by two officers, before an officer fired his gun.

ASIRT says Tuel then fell briefly before running at a different officer, who also shot him.

An investigation into his death was immediately ordered.

Family and friends say Tuel was in mental distress and had a history of trauma as a refugee from South Sudan.

Tuel’s death sparked rallies for justice across the city and generated discussion about CPS’ de-escalation protocols.

In a statement to CityNews, CPS says it recognizes regardless of ASIRT’S findings, there are issues that have been brought forward by the community that they are committed to addressing.

“While we know the answers found in this report will not heal a family who have lost a loved one, or a community who were deeply impacted by the loss of one of their own, we appreciate the transparency the report provides and the objective conclusions of ASIRT,” police said.

Calgary police reiterated its position that the lethal use of force was necessary.

“Our officers made every attempt to de-escalate a situation that was already at an elevated risk with members of the public in harm’s way, several whom had already been assaulted,” a spokesperson said. “Every non-lethal use of force option was used in an attempt to take the person into custody and as ASIRT has outlined, this was not a situation that would have been appropriate for intervention by civilian clinicians.

“As police, our job is to protect the public. The ways in which we are called upon to protect the public can and should be evaluated when there is the loss of a life,” they continued. “Despite the officer’s best efforts, the result of this interaction was unavoidable, but is one we understand has deeply impacted both the community and our officers.”

Tuel’s family is expected to react to the report Friday afternoon.

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