Anthony Heffernan Shooting: Family Worries Officer Was Unjustly Cleared

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The family of a man shot and killed by Calgary police are concerned the decision to not lay charges against the officer involved might have been swayed by a biased expert.

Anthony Heffernan, 27, was fatally shot four times in his motel room in 2015.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), an independent government watchdog, conducted an investigation and concluded there were grounds to lay charges against the officer who shot Heffernan.

However, once ASIRT's recommendation was passed onto the Crown (ACPS), prosecutors recommended no charges be laid.

The Crown's decision was based on the opinion of expert Chris Lawrence, an advisor to the Force Science Research Centre.

Controversial police psychologist

The director of the centre is controversial police shooting expert Bill Lewinski.

Critics of Lewinski say he is "the kind of witness you call in if you want to have the police exonerated," CBC News reported.

Despite experts calling his work "pseudoscience," the psychologist charges $1,000 hourly rate to appear in court. His testimony has helped exonerate dozens of officers who charged in shootings, according to The New York Times.

The Heffernans are concerned that ACPS chose to reject an expert they had requested in favour of one who might have an agenda.

"When you reject a highly-qualified expert, you don't even go to him ... and then you go to a guy who is at this Force Science Institute. It looks like you're expert shopping," the family's lawyer Tom Engel told CBC News.

Police say concerns are 'ridiculous'

Howard Burns, the head of Calgary's police union, has dismissed accusations the officer involved bears all fault and responsibility with the shooting.

"To say it's murder is ridiculous," he told the Calgary Herald.

The family is planning to sue the Calgary police in hopes the officer involved in the shooting will be forced to testify.

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