The Alberta Serious Response Unit (ASIRT) issued a press release today indicating no charges will be laid against the Manitoba RCMP Officer who shot twenty-one (21) year old gangster Evan Cromarty in Norway House Cree Nation on July 20, 2014.
The shooting sparked considerable controversy when news broke indicating Cromarty was shot on a field where a youth baseball tournament was underway placing the safety of hundreds of participants in potential jeopardy.
Several eyewitnesses added fuel to the fire when they reported Cromarty was unarmed and had his hands up when he was shot.
Cromarty received a non-lifethreatening gunshot wound to his arm.
The Police Insider jumped on the story after reading a Winnipeg Free Press article featuring a photograph of Cromarty that might cause the average reader to think of him more as a choir boy than a hardened thug with a horrendous criminal history.
When I searched social media it wasn’t difficult to find photos of Cromarty posing with edged weapons, flashing gang signs and drinking whiskey straight from the bottle.
It made me ponder why the publisher made the conscious decision to provide the public with such an innocuous photograph of Cromarty when photographs in the public domain existed that seemed to provide a much more realistic depiction of the young man.
Police Insider Story, “Perception vs Reality – Angels vs Demons” explored the issue and became one of TPI’s top ranked stories recording over 17,442 views.
Some of the comments dropped on the story were most enlightening.
ASIRT executive director Sue Hughson indicated the RCMP Officer who shot Cromarty was acting on information received that the thug, “always” had a gun on him.
“Those were her words, always kept that gun in his pocket, so those were the grounds that would have provided some information for an officer to make the decision he had to make,” Hughson explained to reporters.
CBC news reports the investigation revealed that, “While Cromarty did hold his hands out from his body, he turned slightly and reached toward his pocket despite repeated commands from police.”
There’s a word for that in the police universe, it’s called, “non-compliance.”
Non-compliance is a theme central in a significant number of high-profile police shootings and police involved deaths recently reported in the United States.
ASIRT has communicated their findings to Cromarty and the RCMP officer involved in the firearm’s discharge. Investigators and Justice officials also briefed Norway House Chief Ron Evans, band councillors and elders.
The CBC news report indicates all criminal charges against Cromarty, including aggravated assault, breaking and entering and utter threats were dropped earlier this year.
Why the charges were dropped was not made clear.
It was with great interest I noted the CBC report featured a photograph of Cromarty wearing his hat backwards and flashing gang signs.
We can all give them a degree of credit for that.
The question that remains is, “Why did it take four-hundred and twenty-three (423) days for ASIRT to report their findings in this case?”
It seems to me 1 year, 1 month and twenty-seven (27) days is an extraordinarily long time to conclude a case such as this.
That is a very long time to leave a community like Norway House in a constant state of flux.
I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the RCMP Officers who were left with the dubious task of policing the tension filled community while awaiting ASIRT’S findings.
Regardless, speed should never be the primary consideration when investigating a police involved shooting. Running a thorough, unbiased and transparent investigation should always be the end game.
All things considered, they probably got it right.
RELATED LINK – ASIRT PRESS RELEASE: