Daryl Slade, Calgary, Alberta (Calgary Herald) – A member of the RCMP’s emergency response team testified at a fatality inquiry on Wednesday that he had no choice but to fatally shoot a man he believed was armed with a rifle outside his Okotoks home two years ago.
Const. Jason Krivoshein said he saw Corey Lewis emerge from his home just before 2 a.m. on July 18, 2010, following a lengthy standoff, and Lewis was moving quickly to the area where other officers were situated.
When he saw Lewis raise the purported weapon and shoulder it as if taking aim in a firing position, Krivoshein said he fired six shots at the 39-year-old man.
“I believed he was moving to shoot the Red Deer ERT members, so I immediately engaged him,” Krivoshein told RCMP lawyer Barry Benkendorf.
It was only afterward that Krivoshein said he realized Lewis had been carrying an umbrella and aiming it as if it was a weapon, which several police witnesses have said was almost certainly an attempt to have police kill him.
Krivoshein, then a member of the highly trained group of RCMP members capable of employing specialized weapons, equipment and tactics to resolve high-risk situations, said officers cannot wait until someone shoots before responding.
“You always have to be aware of what somebody is doing, and you have to be ready,” the officer said. “There are always going to be time delays. Every human on the planet will have a time lag, so we always believe you have to be ready when a situation arises. It takes time to go through the process and to react.”
Krivoshein also said he realized after he went over to where Lewis was laying that he had an envelope duct taped to his face and throat. He said the man’s hands were also duct taped to the umbrella.
Other regular RCMP members said they had entered the home a few hours earlier at the permission of Lewis’s wife, to check on her husband’s welfare, but the man was holding a shotgun and threatened them to get out of his home. It was then that the Calgary and Red Deer ERT members were called to take charge of the situation.
Another ERT officer previously told the inquiry before provincial court Judge Marlene Graham that he found a note — like a last will and testament — on the stairs inside the from door of the home after the shooting.
Det. Dave Keagan of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team later testified that Mounties had become involved after complaints that Lewis had assaulted his teenage stepson that day and had retreated into the master bedroom of the home.
Keagan said Lewis’s wife also had been concerned that her husband was suffering from depression and had not been taking his medication.
Following an extensive investigation, Keagan said ASIRT concluded that Krivoshein was acting properly in the situation and was justified in firing at Lewis.
He said Krivoshein had never had any prior dealings with Lewis.
Krivoshein said he doesn’t believe there was anything that could have been done differently or better under the circumstances, as it seemed clear Lewis had a rifle raised and was ready to fire.
Court heard three of the six shots fired by the officer with an M16 struck Lewis.
The inquiry is expected to conclude today.