Suspect, 16, shot by officer at 7-Eleven in critical but stable condition
WINNIPEG -- Police said the suspect shot by a police officer Thursday evening at a 7-Eleven in Winnipeg’s West End was a youth, who is currently in hospital in critical but stable condition.
It happened after police got multiple calls about a robbery at the store at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Arlington Street at around 5:35 p.m.
Police said the first officer at the scene found a suspect at the store’s entrance, who exited and moved towards the officer before he was shot multiple times.
Another officer had his hand hurt in the incident, with police saying it appears they may have been hit by ricochet or shrapnel and they’ve already been released from hospital.
Videos of the incident quickly spread on social media. Winnipeg Police Service Const. Rob Carver couldn’t confirm for sure if the weapon the suspect had was a machete, but said that’s what it looked like on video.
He also couldn’t say if the suspect had been locked in the store prior to leaving.
“I can again confirm what I saw in the video, my understanding was that there was some hindrance in him getting out, but I can’t give you details in terms of what 7-Eleven’s policy was or specifically the background there, because again, it’s going to be part of an ongoing investigation,” said Carver.
Police said the Independent Investigations Unit of Manitoba is investigating the shooting.
On Friday afternoon the IIU asked for witnesses or anyone else with information or footage to contact investigators at 1-844-667-6060. It did not release any details about the incident that hadn't already been shared by police, except to say the suspect shot was being treated at Health Sciences Centre.
7-Eleven Canada also said it would also be investigating the incident. In a written statement to CTV News, the convenience store said it was saddened by the incident.
"We empathize with all the people involved. We have initiated an investigation, and we are reviewing internal procedures for customer and employee safety," the statement said. "We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as they conduct their investigation.”
7-Eleven said the workers who were on shift when the robbery happened are now on leave.
Carver couldn’t give details about what happened at the convenience store prior to the arrival of police.
“Charges haven’t been laid, if and when charges do get laid, I’d be able to move forward with that,” he said.
“If you remove the officer-involved shooting part of this, y’know, if we had video of somebody who may or may not have been involved in a crime and I talked about what that crime was before we lay charges, I would be prejudicing a court case.”
In one of the videos, which appears to have been taken by someone driving by the scene, yelling can be heard.
“Don’t move, drop the knife,” a voice says, as several consecutive shots were fired.
VIDEO CAN HELP POLICE, BUT RECORDING COMES WITH RISK: POLICE
While Carver said video evidence can help officers investigate crimes, he also said he wouldn’t recommend anyone take one of an active incident.
He said police will often go looking for video.
“Sometimes we get video that’s partial, that just contains some element, but it helps us knit together the details of what happened.”
But he said taking cell phone video at a scene is different.
“I simply don’t understand someone’s burning need to pull out a cell phone and record a violent incident,” he said.
“If officers have guns out and you don’t get out of the area, and you think it’s really important to stand there and record it and you get hurt, then you put yourself in self-imposed jeopardy,” he said.
DECIDING TO USE FORCE
Carver wouldn’t comment on the use of force in this case because it is currently under investigation, but he offered general comments on police use of force, saying he has been in situations where his life was put at risk.
“I’m going to have to discharge my weapon to stop that threat,” he said. “It’s not like in the movies, it’s not like where someone gets shot and they fall over, they get blown back.”
“We have all sorts of scientific evidence that – what is required to stop that threat. And it typically takes multiple rounds to centre mass. If an officer missed, the shot did nothing.”
He also said whether or not a suspect is a youth is not a factor police would use to assess a threat.
He said whether or not they have a weapon; whether or not they have a delivery system, i.e. a way to use it; and whether or not they show intent to use it are the factors police weigh.
Carver used an extreme example.
“If a five-year-old is holding a knife, I don’t think you can put together intent and delivery system,” he said, explaining there isn’t an exact age when someone can be considered a threat.
“I can’t tell you at what point, because there isn’t a point, it isn’t a factor. But I can tell you last night age wasn’t a factor.”
Policing and social media researcher Christopher Schneider, an associate professor of sociology at Brandon University, said whether or not the investigation deems the officer's actions were justified, the videos of the shooting will require police to respond to concerns about use of force.
"For example, the social media posts that say things like ‘this was excessive in Winnipeg, why did they fire nine shots, couldn't they have done something differently,’” said Schneider. “So, the police are sort of grappling with these things as social media materials have sort of disrupted, basically, their monopoly on the crime narrative.
“They have to always maintain public confidence and these videos can erode public confidence."
-With files from CTV's Danton Unger & Josh Crabb