Calgary police cleared in 2016 fatal shooting of quadriplegic man ‘in crisis’
CALGARY — A police watchdog investigation has concluded police were justified in shooting and killing a man in a wheelchair who had been firing a gun out of his home for 90 minutes and nearly hit police and a bus driver.
A 53-year-old man, identified as David McQueen, died in January 2016 following a tense Sunday afternoon confrontation in Calgary with officers.
Susan Hughson, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, said police were called after a bus driver was nearly shot and the window of his bus was shattered by a bullet.
McQueen retreated into his home when police arrived, continued to fire bullets from inside and hit neighbouring homes. After an hour and a half, police threw tear gas inside the home, Hughson said.
McQueen came out armed with a handgun and fired at officers before he was shot in the head.
The man was clearly “in crisis” but police had no choice but to shoot him, Hughson said.
“This was, to my way of thinking, the closest we’ve come to a really significant active shooter situation. There were lots of people in the community at the time,” she said Thursday. “The shot that was fired into the bus ... came dangerously close to hitting that bus driver. He was very lucky that day.
“There were officers throughout that neighbourhood (where) he was firing his revolver and they could hear shots whizzing by their heads.”
There were 30 bullet holes in the windows, walls and roof of McQueen’s home. Police also recovered bullets that struck nearby houses, fences and a trailer.
Police used “great restraint” but it became apparent that the situation wasn’t going to end well, Hughson said.
“There is so much that the police cannot control that it’s a really highly dangerous situation,” she said. ``He crossed the line that he couldn’t cross.”
McQueen was a quadriplegic who had limited use of his hands, Hughson said. He had been struggling “physically, emotionally, and financially.”
“He had started using more pain medication than prescribed and had suffered the loss of his beloved pet, his constant companion, approximately one week before the critical incident. He became increasingly more despondent.”
An envelope was found inside his home referring to the date and time of his dog’s death and a note about who should inherit his belongings “in my death.”
At the time of McQueen’s death, Calgary police Chief Roger Chaffin said police had visited the home a number of times but it hadn’t involved “this level of violence.”
David Swann, who was Alberta Liberal leader, said McQueen had a serious mental illness and had contacted Swann’s constituency office many, many times. He was very angry, Swan remembered.
“Angry with the injury which all but paralyzed him, angry with a system he felt failed him, and angry with those who represented that system,” Swann said in a statement at the time.
The Calgary Police Service said in a statement Thursday that its officers displayed great professionalism dealing with someone whose mental health played “an enormous role in the unfortunate outcome.”
“Thousands of times a year, we respond to calls for those with addictions or mental-health issues. The overwhelming majority of these calls end with us being able to de-escalate the situation,” the police service said. “This call fell outside the realm of de-escalation.”
The McQueen family’s grief is not lost on officers, it added.
The shooting was tragic for all involved, said Hughson, who spoke to McQueen’s son earlier this week.
“He’s quite an impressive, mature young man,” she said. “It’s very sad to see him in this situation, because this has got to be devastating.”
— Chinta Puxley in Edmonton
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017
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