HALIFAX – No charges will be laid against RCMP officers involved in the shooting and arrest of a man during a series of incidents at Hillsburn and Parkers Cove, Annapolis County in the early hours of July 4, 2016.
The province's independent Serious Incident Response Team released a report Feb. 23 regarding its investigation into the incident that started in the early morning hours on that date when RCMP from the Bridgetown detachment responded to a complaint of a suspicious fire involving a motorhome and adjacent residence.
In learning the details of the fire, officers determined they were looking for a local man who was identified as the person responsible for setting the fire.
When officers located the man a short time later in nearby Parkers Cove, he was driving a stolen white extended cab Chev truck and attempting to strike another smaller vehicle carrying passengers known to him.
The SIRT report said the two RCMP officers approached the truck on foot and repeatedly ordered the driver to stop and exit the vehicle.
“The suspect did not comply and drove directly toward the two officers,” the report said. “Fearing for their personal safety and safety of those around them, the officers fired shots toward the vehicle hitting both the vehicle and the driver. The driver exited the vehicle and was placed under arrest. He was treated in hospital for non-life threatening gunshot wounds to both arms.”
Annapolis Royal fire chief Malcolm Francis said at the time his firefighters were called to a motor home fire in Hillsburn just before 12:30 a.m. Francis said dispatchers warned there were “two loud explosions.”
Crews arrived to find flames had spread to a bungalow next to the burning RV. The homeowners were in bed when the fire started, Francis said.
“They heard the explosion out around their motor home and barely escaped,” the chief said. A 95-year-old woman, the mother of one of the homeowners who lives in the adjacent home, also escaped. Firefighters were able to save her house and a garage on the property. The motor home and bungalow were destroyed.
Firefighters from Bear River, Bridgetown, Lawrencetown, Port Lorne and Middleton were part of the three-hour effort to battle the blaze.
Police charged Jeffrey Luke Gregory, then 55, with a number of Criminal Code charges in connection to the events that day in 2016, including two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a weapon, dangerous driving, theft of a motor vehicle, and arson.
Gregory appeared in Annapolis Royal Provincial Court on July 14, 2016 and was remanded for a 30-day psychiatric assessment. On August 11, 2016, the accused was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder on all charges.
The SIRT investigation found the use of force exercised by the officers was reasonable and justified in the circumstances.
“The officers knew the male suspect had very recent mental health issues, was acting in a bizarre manner that evening, was possibly armed with a firearm and was not following their repeated orders to stop and get out of the vehicle,” the report said. “In order to stop the vehicle from running them over, it was necessary at that moment, to use their firearms. Statements taken by SIRT investigators from witnesses at the scene verified the imminent danger facing the officers and the justification for the actions they took.”
SIRT said that in those circumstances, there were no grounds to consider any charges against the police officers.
A complete copy of the report is available at http://sirt.novascotia.ca.
SIRT is responsible for investigating all serious incidents involving police in Nova Scotia. Investigations are under the direction and control of independent civilian interim director John Scott, who is solely responsible for decisions respecting the laying of any charge.