LETHBRIDGE – A young man has been given a conditional discharge in Youth Court, for an incident that ended when he was shot by police in 2015.
The man – who was 17 at the time of the incident and can not be identified – admitted to charges of assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, and was sentenced on Wednesday (Apr. 19).
On the afternoon of Oct. 9, 2015, the youth attended a birthday party, where he consumed magic mushrooms. Others at the party noted that he seemed “spaced out” and anxious, and that he took off in the direction of the Safeway on University Drive West.
Inside the store, he wandered aimlessly, before approaching a 24-year old woman, grabbing her and then walking away. He proceeded to take a 10-inch knife from behind the butcher’s counter and wandered around the store for a little while longer. While he didn’t threaten anyone, witnesses reported that they were concerned for their safety.
Once outside and still carrying the knife, he walked down several streets – where another witness noted that the youth had “a lost look on his face.”
Lethbridge Police Service officers arrived on scene and ordered the youth to drop the knife, but he continued walking without acknowledging them. This continued until the young man suddenly turned around and advanced quickly on the officers with the knife raised in the air.
At a distance of about 15 feet and closing, one of the officers discharged three rounds, bringing the youth to the ground.
He was transported to the emergency department at the Chinook Regional Hospital, where he required surgery to remove a bullet from his neck area. He was also treated for a flesh wound to a hand and right thigh, as well as a fractured left femur.
In reviewing a pre-sentence report that had been prepared for the young man, Crown Prosecutor, Bruce Ainscough, stated to the court, “This was a very out of character situation for the accused.”
Ainscough explained that not only did the accused take responsibility for his actions, but that he has no animosity to the police and understands that they were just doing their jobs.
The youth’s lawyer, Lisa Burgis-Der, echoed those comments, saying her client is ashamed and embarrassed by his actions, which never would have happened had he not decided to experiment with mushrooms. She added that he even helped his parents come to terms with the incident, after doing so himself.
After hearing a recommendation of probation from the Crown and a conditional discharge from the defence, Judge Gerald DeBow agreed that a conditional discharge was appropriate, as it would mean the criminal record would disappear from his history earlier.
Judge DeBow also agreed that drugs were the primary factor in the incident, making the statement, “I’m convinced he won’t be doing that in the future.”
After receiving his sentence, the youth apologized to the court, adding, “I made a lot of bad decisions that day and put people at risk.”
As part of the youth’s conditional discharge – which will be in effect for one year – he must attend any counselling that is recommended by a probation officer – with a focus on substance abuse – and he can not be in possession of a weapon or have any contact with the women he assaulted at Safeway.