ALBERTA

Steven Boucher's Death Was 'Inevitable'; Judge Finds RCMP Followed Procedure

06/04/2013 01:39 EDT | Updated 08/04/2013 05:12 EDT
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CALGARY - A report into the slaying of an armed-robbery suspect by RCMP in an Alberta mountain community says it couldn't have been prevented.

Mounties shot Steven Boucher on a Canmore street following several robberies in January 2011.

Boucher, 63, got out of his vehicle after being blocked in by a police cruiser. He was carrying a replica of a 9-mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol as he confronted Const. Sanjay Sachdev and Cpl. Chris Blandford.

"In the present case, the state of mind of the deceased is unknown. He clearly confronted a law enforcement official with behaviour so extreme that it compelled that officer to act with deadly force," wrote Judge Peter Barley, who headed a fatality inquiry into the death.

"The officers followed their training to the letter. Once Mr. Boucher got out of his vehicle and pointed a replica handgun at Const. Sachdev, knowing that he was facing two police officers, his death was inevitable."

The fake gun carried by Boucher was designed to fire plastic pellets. The replicas can be purchased legally and are transparent so they look fake. Boucher painted his black to make it look authentic.

The two Mounties fired 11 shots at Boucher in less than three seconds, said the report. He was struck by three: once in the abdomen, once in the upper left back and once in the right thigh.

Boucher was treated at the scene by paramedics and then taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

There were several shoppers and pedestrians on the streets at the time, including an off-duty RCMP officer, who saw what happened.

Boucher was suspected in several robberies in the town on the eastern edge of Banff National Park.

The judge said it was clear that "no lesser use of force was practical." He said a baton would have been useless at that distance and neither a stun gun nor pepper spray is certain of immediate effect.

"There is nothing that I can recommend to prevent a similar event occurring. Both the police training and the actions of Const. Sachdev and Cpl. Blandford were proper in accordance with their training, common sense and the Criminal Code of Canada."

The findings of the inquiry were welcomed by the RCMP.

"The RCMP welcome another independent review of this matter. Our members are aware that they may be called upon to use lethal force, and know that they are accountable for any such action. Such actions are, fortunately, rare," said RCMP Sgt. Patricia Neely in an email.

"The RCMP is committed to transparency and are pleased that our members actions in this case were held as above reproach."

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