ST. LAURENT, Man. — An agency that investigates serious police actions in Manitoba says an RCMP officer was escorting a man to Winnipeg when he wrestled the Mountie's gun away from him and took off in an unmarked police van.
Several hours later, the 18-year-old was shot and killed by officers near the Lake Manitoba First Nation.
Zane Tessler of Manitoba's Independent Investigation Unit says Mounties have told the unit that an officer was taking the man to Winnipeg from Ashern in the van Tuesday night.
Tessler says the two got into a fight during which the man assaulted the officer, who shot his gun. The man grabbed the officer's gun and took off in the van, leaving the officer behind.
"The officer suffered injuries and was taken to hospital in Selkirk," Tessler said Wednesday. He added he didn't know the extent of the Mountie's injuries or his condition.
Tessler said it's not known if the man was shot, but the officer was not hit by his own gunshot. Tessler also said it's not known if the van was stopped or was driving when the fight occurred.
He said a few hours later, Mounties spotted the man near Lake Manitoba First Nation, a chase ensued and the stolen police van ended up in a ditch.
Police attempted to arrest the man and that's when he was shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tessler said it's not known how many officers shot at the man or how many shots hit him.
There are many unanswered questions and many facts yet to be established, said Tessler, a former Crown prosecutor. For one, it's not known why the 18-year-old was in RCMP custody or why he was being taken to Winnipeg.
The officer who was escorting the man has yet to be interviewed, Tessler said.
He stressed that what has been said so far about what happened has come from the RCMP.
Incident is being investigated
"This gives an outline of what we've been told by the reporting agency. We're confident that most of those facts are correct, but the investigation will be done to ensure that there is accuracy in the final findings."
The role of the investigative unit is to determine what happened, why it happened and whether there are any consequences because of what happened.
"Any time you get situations involving officer-involved shootings, these are very serious circumstances ... so these are always deemed to be and recognized as very significant and serious incidents," Tessler said.
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