WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s police watchdog says the investigation into an off-duty officer who accidentally shot himself in the foot was “fraught with difficulties” after the officer refused to release medical information, and officers who responded to the shooting failed to take notes, talk to a witness, and seize the firearm.
Zane Tessler, the civilian director of the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, said in his final report that the investigation into the shooting was difficult due to a lack of information.
On the morning of Sept. 7, 2019, an off-duty RCMP officer reported that he had accidentally shot himself in the left foot while goose hunting.
The IIU said it was notified of the incident by RCMP on Nov. 29, 2019, nearly three months after the actual incident took place.
RCMP told the IIU that the officer was treated by emergency medical services. Responding RCMP officers from St Pierre noted the firearm appeared to be a shotgun. The RCMP said no further details were provided, including the make and model of the firearm or a statement.
The incident was brought to the attention of the RCMP D Division Criminal Operations on Nov. 29, 2019, and the IIU was then notified.
RCMP had not confirmed any specifics of the injury when it notified the IIU, but said it is believed there had been a surgery and it was possible the officer’s toe was amputated.
The IIU said its investigation was mandatory because an injury caused by the discharge of a firearm is considered a serious injury.
“For all intents, this investigation ended almost as soon as it began,” Tessler wrote in his final report.
Tessler wrote, responding officers failed to make notes of their contact with the officer in question. A potential witness to the shooting was never identified, and their name and contact information was not recorded, according to the IIU report.
Responding officers never identified, inspected or seized the RCMP officer’s firearm, the IIU report said.
The RCMP officer in question would not participate in an interview with IIU investigators and declined to release his medical information, Tessler wrote. The IIU said this prevented investigators from substantiating the nature and extent of the officer’s injuries.
“If it were not for the attendance of EMS personnel, the fact that (the officer) suffered an injury would have been unknown,” Tessler wrote.
He said the issues the IIU faced rendered the investigation null, and said the matter is now closed.
“We anticipate that senior RCMP management will deal with the issues identified in this report that effectively rendered this investigation null,” Tessler wrote.
CTV News has reached out to Manitoba RCMP for comment.
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