Investigators from Alberta are on their way to Norway House to launch a formal probe into the RCMP shooting of an unarmed man Sunday.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has accepted a request to probe the shooting, according to a statement issued by the Manitoba government Monday afternoon.
The team is called in as standard practice in cases involving Alberta’s police which result in serious injury or death, as well as cases involving sensitive allegations of police misconduct.
Five investigators with the 27-member team are en route to Manitoba today, promising an objective, thorough and independent investigation, which will be forwarded to Manitoba Justice when it’s complete, the Free Press was told.
There is no timeline yet for when the investigation will be complete. The team has been called out of Alberta to work on cases in the past.
Meanwhile, RCMP reported a "positive" meeting between two of its senior officers and Chief Ron Evans of Norway House Monday.
"Assistant Commissioner Kevin Brosseau, commanding officer of RCMP D Division, and Chief Superintendent Scott Kolody, officer in charge of criminal operations, met with Norway House Chief Ron Evans to discuss the firearm discharge that occurred in that community on July 20, 2014," the statement said.
"The meeting was positive, and concerns regarding the event and the relationship between the community and the police were discussed," the RCMP said. The statement added no information on whether the victim in the shooting faces new charges or why the RCMP confronted him Sunday.
No further public statements from the RCMP will be issued pending the Alberta team’s investigation in Norway House, the statement said.
Manitoba Justice ordered the independent investigation Sunday.
Evans said he supports the call for an independent probe.
The chief said the province’s premier made him that pledge on the phone hours after the shooting. Greg Selinger spoke with Evans Sunday night, suggesting a special unit from outside the province investigate the shooting.
Bringing in an independent investigative unit from outside Manitoba that is separate from the RCMP satisfied the community as the best way to probe Sunday’s shooting, Evans said.
A man remained in a Winnipeg hospital Monday after being shot by RCMP in Norway House during an afternoon children’s baseball game.
RCMP confirmed an officer discharged a firearm and a Norway House resident suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Evans said Monday about 300 people attending two baseball games witnessed the shooting, many of them taking videos of the incident with their cellphones. Those videos and witness accounts are expected to form the basis of the evidence the independent investigators will collect.
"We’re going to give them whatever evidence there is. We don’t want anybody to jeopardize or tamper with it, " Evans said.
Sunday night, Evans and a witness to the shooting identified the wounded man as Evan Cromarty, who they said is about 20 years old and lives in Norway House.
Evans said Cromarty was wounded in the shoulder and taken by air ambulance to Winnipeg in stable condition.
The shooting took place around 4 p.m., said witness Annie Ettawacappow, 25, who lives next to the Rossville Diamond where the incident took place. She said she was alerted to trouble by the sound of sirens and walked out of her house to see what was going on.
"I was outside my house. I was watching and he was running toward the field," Ettawacappow said.
She said she saw two RCMP cruisers arrive and two officers come out with their weapons drawn.
"A cop pointed a gun at him. I saw him put up his hands," she said.
The police told him to "freeze," she said.
Ettawacappow said Cromarty kept his hands up and was walking backwards. "He was walking away with his hands up."
She said only one of the officers fired his weapon and she heard four shots.
"He went down and fell to the ground. He started twitching. I thought he was dead," Ettawacappow said, adding she didn’t think Cromarty was armed, a fact which Evans echoed.
"He had no weapons on him," Evans said.
Both Ettawacappow and Evans told the Free Press there were two games at the Rossville Diamond Sunday. One involved 12-year-olds and the other 17-year-olds. The teams were from Norway House and Cross Lake.