Officer says RCMP and Saskatoon police gave Steven Rigby conflicting data throughout standoff

Tuesday marked the second day of the investigation into the death of Steven Rigby, who was killed in a police shooting on the outskirts of Saskatoon on December 22, 2018.

Full Dean Flaman, who is part of the RCMP division in Warman and who first interacted with Rigby, described problems with communication between police stations.

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Rigby had driven around the Pike Lake area and fired two rounds from his gun into the air before threatening his life, according to his mother, who called the RCMP.

When RCMP reached Rigby, Flaman said he was on the outskirts of Saskatoon in an area under the jurisdiction of the Saskatoon Police Service.

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RCMP had put up a roadblock. Flaman testified that he stopped Rigby, who looked drunk and was driving on the wrong side of the road. Flaman tried to speak to Rigby and give him orders.

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Flaman said he then discovered that Rigby had also called the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS). Flaman didn’t know at first, but Rigby was on the phone with a childhood friend, Const. Jordan Lapointe, who happened to be a SPS officer.

“Frustrating” communication

Flaman said that at some point he realized that by trying to speak to Rigby he was making him even more angry and upset, so he pulled back to let Lapointe continue to speak to Rigby on behalf of the PLC.

While RCMP officers ordered Rigby to get out of the car, Flaman said the SPS telephoned Rigby to tell Rigby to stop.

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The Saskatoon Police Department eventually took over the scene, with Lapointe and subsequent crisis negotiators continuing to telephone Rigby.

Flaman called the situation “frustrating” and testified that it was his scene initially. He said it was disturbing that SPS Rigby was delivering conflicting messages.

“I’m the one negotiating with him. I’m the one who should speak to him at this point, ”he said.

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Rigby ran over a spike belt that RCMP had originally put on to stop him. He drove flat tires before crashing into a snowy ditch.

A video of two police vehicles shows Rigby opening and closing the front door several times before getting out. He staggers and leans against the car, fires shots into the air and falls over before getting up again after a few minutes.

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The video shows police officers asking him to drop his gun. He fires in the air and police officers shoot. Rigby was shot three times: once in the stomach, once in the thigh and once in the arm.

Sgt.Aaron Moser, who was the supervisor for SPS during the incident, said he had not seen the shooting, but immediately afterwards he and another officer noticed that Rigby was still holding the gun in his right hand, his finger on Deduction.

According to the video, Rigby was lying in the snow for several minutes before officers approached and paramedics could finally treat him.

Paramedic Alicia Westad testified that Rigby had no pulse, was having difficulty breathing, and was in cardiac arrest when her team reached him.

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He was transported to the Royal University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy shows he died of blood loss, and the shot in his abdomen severed a large artery.

When asked about killing and targeting less vital parts of the body, Moser said police officers were only trained to fire their firearms to stop a threat. You are trained to shoot the “middle mass” or the head, not extremities like arms or legs.

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Better communication needed

Friends previously testified that Rigby had a history of mental health issues, including interacting with police during a suicide attempt in North Battleford in 2018.

However, the investigation found that the RCMP and the Saskatoon Police Department have different databases of information about people; While SPS had its history available, RCMP did not have easy access to the full history.

According to Lapointe, Rigby had talked about police suicide for years. Saskatoon officials were made aware that Rigby was going through a mental crisis and had a gun.

Moser testified that officers thought the situation was too dangerous to approach or send a police dog to distract him. They feared they would piss him off and cause a shootout.

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Senior Police Conduct Investigator Sgt. Tony Boemsch testified that no criminal charges were recommended against the 16 officers found to have contributed directly or indirectly to the death.

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According to a transcript read out during the investigation, audio from an RCMP vehicle following the shooting. An unidentified person was captured who told an RCMP officer that he was scared and feared for his life during the incident.

“Just tell them how you felt. You have to convey that to them – that you are scared and you were scared to death, ”said the voice.

The officer replied that they did not shoot Rigby, but the voice replies: “I know, but you still want to say how you felt and that you were afraid.”

The officers involved in the shootings were separated almost immediately and later questioned about the events, Boemsch said, adding that this was standard to ensure they didn’t compare stories or incorrectly remember details.

In his testimony, Flaman stated that he would have liked better communication between the PLC and the RCMP. Flaman has been a peace officer for 20 years and said he had not received formal mental health training – something he believes is particularly needed in situations like this.

The investigation is scheduled for the remainder of this week.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, please get in touch. Resources are available. In an emergency, please call 911 for immediate assistance.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 has every means of getting help if you or someone you know has a mental health problem.

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