ALBERTA

No Charges Against Alberta Mountie Who Shot And Killed Man At Traffic Stop

01/20/2015 07:04 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT
Rolf Hicker via Getty Images
WETASKIWIN, Alta. - There won't be any charges against an Alberta RCMP officer who shot and killed a man in a traffic stop that rapidly went wrong.

An agency that reviews police-related shootings says the Mountie acted in self-defence.

A release from the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says the lone officer pulled over a truck near Ma Me O Beach in August 2013 after he observed the driver wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

The driver wasn't able to produce a valid driver's licence and the officer noted the driver's speech was slurred and there were other signs of impairment.

There was a struggle while the officer was trying to arrest the man, and the driver's three sons quickly moved toward the police officer.

The officer let the driver go and began to retreat, and pulled out his service pistol and pepper spray. He told the three men to get away or he would shoot them.

As this was happening, the driver got into the police vehicle where the officer's shotgun was located.

Investigators say the Mountie tripped as he was trying to get away and dropped his pepper spray. Fearing for his safety, the officer fired three shots.

Lance Cutarm, who was 30, died and his brother, 41-year-old Larron Cutarm, suffered chest wounds.

Their father, Lawrence Cutarm, admitted that they had been drinking that day, but said there was no reason to shoot at them. He also said the officer Tasered his son after he was already dead.

An Alberta aboriginal leader requested that ASIRT investigate whether racism was a factor. ASIRT said the officer did not use racial slurs in dealing with the Cutarms.

ASIRT says the entire contact between the parties can be heard on an audio recording that was activated in the patrol car. However, the video camera in the police car did not capture the shootings because it happened off to the left and behind the police cruiser.

"This entire incident, from the first point of direct contact ... took less than 2 1/2 minutes," says the release. "Indeed, from the point the driver was asked to step out of the vehicle to the point the officer is able to re-enter his police vehicle, only approximately one minute and 17 seconds had passed."

ASIRT says the evidence shows that Lawrence Cutarm was never handcuffed and thrown to the ground . It also says the constable never used a Taser on anyone.

Lawrence Cutarm was later arrested by a different officer, who used a stun gun to subdue him.

"The RCMP extends its sympathy to the deceased's family," Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand, Criminal Operations Officer for the RCMP in Alberta, said in a news release.

"Our hope is that ASIRT's independent investigation provides them with a clearer understanding of this tragic event."

Mounties say they won't release the name of the officer who was involved in the shootings. They say he's been on duty at the Wetaskiwin detachment since the incident occurred and has been told about ASIRT's findings.

"The first priority of all police work is to prevent the loss of life, but police work often involves making split second decisions that can have serious consequences," said Degrand. "This situation has been extremely difficult for everyone, including the officer involved."

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