Officer's decision to shoot knife-wielding suspect 'justified and necessary': police watchdog
A Winnipeg police identification unit on Riverton Avenue. (Glenn Pismenny/CTV News).
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's police watchdog says a Winnipeg police officer's decision to shoot a knife-wielding suspect was justified, necessary and unavoidable.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) has finished its investigation into the officer-involved shooting, which happened on Oct. 18, 2019.
Officers from the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) were called to a residence in the 300-block of Riverton Avenue for what they described as a domestic incident. The IIU said when officers arrived at the residence they found an unresponsive woman lying face down on the floor.
At the time, police reported the woman was found dead. She was later identified as 48-year-old Karen Jane Letniak. Police said a post-mortem examination determined the cause of Letniak’s death to be a homicide.
The IIU said shortly after, police officers encountered a man in the bathroom of the residence who approached the officers while raising a knife in an overhand grip.
"A WPS officer subsequently discharged his firearm, striking the male in the left shoulder," the IIU said in a news release. "Simultaneously, a second officer discharged his Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW)."
Officers gave the man first aid and he was taken to hospital with one gunshot wound and what appeared to be a self-inflicted cut to his neck, the IIU said.
In November 2019, Winnipeg police charged Cody Don Saunders, 26, with second-degree murder, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, and possession of a weapon.
The charges against him have not been proven in court.
The IIU is mandated to investigate any injury caused by the discharge of a firearm, as it is defined as a serious injury.
The investigation included reviewing the notes and reports of the officers involved, as well as meeting with the man at the Winnipeg Remand Centre. The IIU said he declined to provide a statement but did release his medical information.
Investigators also reviewed audio from the 911 call, Winnipeg police radio communications, and photos from the scene, and the Forensic Identification Unit report among other things.
The IIU said its civilian director found the officer's decision to use potentially lethal force, "was justified, unavoidable, and necessary to prevent death or injury to the attending officers."
The IIU said the full report on the investigation will be made available following the trial.
-with files from CTV's Megan Benedictson and Jeremie Charron