Serious violations of Calgary police policy occurred during a high-risk traffic stop that ended in the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old woman on Christmas Day 2018, an investigation has concluded.
The driver – later identified by family as Stacey Perry – was shot three times at close range as she tried to flee police who boxed in her car after repeated attempts to stop her.
However, an Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) investigation released Friday found that the officer who shot Perry, fearing for the safety of a female officer pinned between vehicles, did not commit any wrongdoing.
“The subject officer responded to the immediate risk of serious injury or death to his fellow officer,” the ASIRT report said.
“There were serious violations of CPS policy that led to that dire situation. However, the blame for those violations does not rest with the subject officer, who followed the directions of his superiors and was not trained in the technique used, and this does not give rise to any criminal liability for him.”
Several CPS vehicles surrounded Perry’s car around 2:30 a.m. in response to 911 calls about three hours after she was first seen driving erratically on Blackfoot Trail SE.
CPS policy states that only officers trained in low-speed, box-in techniques are authorized to perform the maneuver. Of those directly involved in the December 25 encounter, only one, a sergeant, was properly trained.
The ASIRT investigation found that an acting staff sergeant had to surround authorized officers and stop the vehicle, even though vehicle intervention training was not offered to patrol officers at the time.
“While it initially appeared that the box-in maneuver was successful and the woman’s vehicle was brought to a stop, any success quickly dissipated,” the report said.
A sergeant positioned his vehicle in front of Perry’s while three others moved to both sides and behind. The driver’s side police vehicle, placed by the officer who eventually got stuck, was not close enough to Perry’s car, the investigation found.
Several officers exited their vehicles and three approached.
One of the three told the driver to turn off the vehicle before smashing the driver’s window with a bat and trying to remove her from the vehicle. A second opened the passenger side door while the third stood between the vehicles.
Perry accelerated her vehicle, moved her car into the gap on the driver’s side and forced it the passenger door of that police vehicle closed and pinned the female officer, who was lifted off her feet by the force.
“The trapped officer was in grave and immediate danger. The woman applied the gas in her vehicle heavily, to the point that rubber flew off the tires,” the report states.
The officer who tried to remove Perry from her car then fired three times at close range. All three shots struck Perry in the head, an autopsy showed.
Only 40 seconds passed between the police stopping Perry and the fatal shots.
“The use of high-risk techniques with untrained officers directly resulted in placing the apprehended officer in a situation of immediate risk of death or serious bodily injury, and directly resulted in the reasonable use of deadly force by those involved officer,” the report states.
The female officer was not injured. ASIRT investigators said she should have remained in the police vehicle with her foot on the brake.
“It is not the subject officer’s or the trapped officer’s fault that they did not follow training that they did not and could not have. They followed the orders of their superiors,” the report said.
Perry first came to officers’ attention shortly before midnight on December 24 when she was seen driving very slowly and erratically on Blackfoot Trail SE. Officers suspected she might be impaired but tried to pull the vehicle over, but it sped away. Officers decided not to pursue the vehicle.
A second traffic stop minutes later was also unsuccessful as the driver sped away.
Callers to 911 reported a vehicle being driven recklessly on Falconridge Boulevard NE. Officers located the vehicle minutes later when the driver ran a red light and was on the wrong side of the road in front of the inbox on McKnight Boulevard near Stoney Trail.
Prior to December 2018, Perry had no criminal record or involvement with the police.
A toxicology report showed she had cocaine and prescribed benzodiazepine medication in her system.
ASIRT said it is for CPS to determine the next steps in dealing with the policy violations.