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Edmonton officer won't face criminal charges for firing gun after training

"At best, the involved officer's handling and use of the firearm fell far short of the specific and rigorous duty of care," said the release. "That no one was injured or killed was nothing short of exceptional good fortune."
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An Edmonton police officer won't face charges despite firing a loaded Glock service pistol (right) after a training exercise in June 2019. Investigators say he may have thought it was a training pistol (left). THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Alberta Serious Incident Response Team Mandatory Credit

EDMONTON — An Edmonton police officer won't face criminal charges for firing a loaded Glock service pistol after a training exercise in June 2019.

The shot, which didn't cause any injuries, happened as members of the Edmonton Police Service tactics and firearms training units were finishing their day at a centre in the city.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says an investigation determined about 10 officers were sitting in a bullpen area doing a debrief of the day and making plans for an evening graduation ceremony.

It found officers were relaxing, throwing around a tennis ball and using laser training pistols to bounce lasers off mirrors and onto each other.

A training officer told investigators that he lasered the involved officer, then popped down behind some desks.

That officer responded by raising his Glock and pulling the trigger.

"A metal pinging sound was heard as the round struck a battering ram that had been placed on top of the other officer’s desktop shelving unit," said a news release from ASIRT.

"Remarkably, the discharge of the firearm resulted in no injury to any of the many officers in the bullpen at the time."

Officers immediately provided statements. Some described the officer who fired the Glock as appearing embarrassed, shocked and ashamed.

"The involved officer put the firearm down and left to report the incident to a supervisor," said the release.

The officer declined to provide a statement, so it's not clear why he fired the gun.

The investigation determined that he either mistakenly raised the Glock believing it to be a training pistol; knowingly raised and fired the Glock believing it to be unloaded or loaded with simulated ammunition; or knowingly pulled the Glock and intentionally fired the gun.

Investigators ruled out the third option because the discharge happened during a relaxed, positive, lighthearted moment and there was no evidence of bad blood between the two officers.

"There is no evidence reasonably capable of providing reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe that the subject officer discharged the firearm with the intent to harm or injure anyone, or with any malice," said the release.

Investigators said it was still a serious circumstance that could have led to other criminal charges.

"At best, the involved officer's handling and use of the firearm fell far short of the specific and rigorous duty of care," said the release. "That no one was injured or killed was nothing short of exceptional good fortune."

ASIRT said it forwarded the matter to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service. The Crown determined there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction, but that it wasn't in the public interest to proceed with criminal prosecution, said the release.

"The fact that the officer will not face criminal prosecution does not mean that the officer's conduct was not viewed as serious or deserving of some form of sanction."

The Edmonton Police Service said Monday in an email that its professional standards branch has started its own investigation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press