A scathing report that blasts a lack of information and a three-month delay in notification closes the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba investigation into an RCMP officer who shot himself in the foot while goose hunting.
The IIU released its final report into the September 2019 shooting on Monday.
“This investigation was fraught with difficulties and a dearth of information from the outset,” IIU civilian director Zane Tessler wrote.
The off-duty officer accidentally shot himself in the left foot while hunting in Grunthal, Man., on the morning of Sept. 7, the IIU report says.
Emergency medical services and RCMP were dispatched to the scene early that morning, and officers noted the gun appeared to be a shotgun.
“Attending officers reported that the [officer] was treated by EMS and had a bandage over the big toe on his left foot. No further details were provided,” an IIU news release about the report says.
An IIU investigation is mandatory under the Police Services Act every time a person is seriously injured as a result of the actions of a police officer, whether on or off duty, and an injury caused by the discharge of a firearm is defined as a serious injury under IIU regulations.
However, RCMP failed to report the incident until nearly three months after it happened and weren’t forthcoming with details, the IIU report says.
“A lack of information significantly affected the ability of IIU investigators to gather evidence,” the news release says.
RCMP D Division’s criminal operations found out about the hunting accident on Nov. 29, and the IIU was notified the same day.
“It is believed that surgery took place and a possible amputation of toe(s) occurred. As such, the requirement for notification of the Manitoba IIU of an off-duty discharge of firearm involving serious injury,” the notification sent to the IIU said.
A team was assigned to investigate, but scene examination was “impossible” due to the nearly three-month delay in reporting, officers who responded to the call about the shooting made no notes about their contact with the officer the day the incident happened, the gun was never identified, inspected or seized, and no witnesses were identified, the IIU news release says.
If not for the presence of emergency medical services, the IIU wouldn’t have known the officer was injured at all, the report says.
The injured officer refused to be interviewed or provide his medical records to the IIU and cannot be compelled to do so, so the IIU was unable to substantiate the nature and extent of his injuries, the report says.
“For all intents, this investigation ended almost as soon as it began,” Tessler’s report says.
He credits the diligence of RCMP management, who “discovered the oversight of the delayed notification and took immediate steps to rectify the matter.”
“We anticipate that senior RCMP management will deal with the issues identified in this report that effectively rendered this investigation null.”
In a statement sent to CBC News on Tuesday, Manitoba RCMP spokesperson Robert Cyrenne attributed the delay in reporting the incident to the IIU to the “unique situation involving an off-duty officer [who was] hunting and [injured] themselves.”
Cyrenne said the responding and supervising officers didn’t realize they were required to report the incident to the IIU, but once senior management became aware, it was immediately reported.
“Be assured that all supervisors are now very much aware of the IIU reporting requirements and it is our strong expectation that these types of delays are not repeated,” Cyrenne said in the statement.
“We work very closely with the IIU and will continue to do so in a co-operative and collaborative manner.”
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