Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Lethbridge Police officers cleared of any misconduct in May 2020 Stormtrooper incident

LETHBRIDGE, AB – All investigations into the now infamous “Stormtrooper take-down” in Lethbridge have wrapped up, more than a year after the incident.

A criminal investigation by the Medicine Hat Police Service, which included a review by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, previously determined charges were not warranted.

Now, a professional misconduct investigation into the matter, also done by the MHPS, has seemingly come to the same conclusion.

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh says after reviewing the 250 page report, he has found no officers are guilty of misconduct for the following reasons:

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· Upon arrival at the scene the officers confirmed the subject of the 9-1-1 calls from two citizens was carrying what appeared to be a black gun. The subject was alone in the parking lot with no signs, music or activity to suggest the officers should not take seriously the potential threat that was reported. As such they were obliged to investigate and assess the reported threat as it was relayed to them, for the safety of bystanders, themselves and the person in the costume.

· The officers’ actions were consistent with use of force policies and the proper protocol to respond to calls involving potential firearms in a tactically-safe manner for everyone involved.

· The elapsed time from the arrival of the first LPS officer on the scene, to the subject being placed in a prone position was just two minutes and 20 seconds. The time from the subject being prone on the pavement to standing with the handcuffs removed, was two minutes and 45 seconds.

While Mehdizadeh says the officers acted appropriately given the circumstances, it does not make the incident less traumatic for those involved.

“We do acknowledge the stress and confusion endured by the young woman in the costume, through no fault of her own. I am satisfied, however, that our officers, operating in the face of their own stressful circumstances, did everything in their power to minimize the impact of this event.” -LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh

On May 4, 2020, Lethbridge Police responded to two 911 calls reporting a person in a Stormtrooper costume was carrying a firearm along the 500 block of 13 Street North.

The weapon was ultimately confirmed to be a fake firearm and the woman, who indicated she was an employee promoting a local business, was not charged.

The woman suffered a minor injury.

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