A man was rushed to hospital in unstable condition Wednesday afternoon after Winnipeg police shot him in a back lane in the North End.
Members of the Winnipeg Police Service were dispatched to the scene at 12:40 p.m. after receiving reports of an armed man in the back lane of the 400 block of College and Boyd avenues.
"Within minutes (of their arrival), officers discharged their weapons," WPS spokesman Const. Rob Carver told reporters at an impromptu 3 p.m. news conference at the scene.
"A number of officers responded in that call. The male was located in the rear lane. At some point in time, fairly soon after the initial contact, officers were forced to discharge their weapons. The male was struck and transported to hospital in unstable condition," Carver said.
Details about the police shooting were scarce Wednesday, with Carver declining to say what weapon — if any — was found on the man, how many officers fired their weapons, how many shots were fired or how many times the man was struck.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, the provincial police watchdog, is probing the shooting, while police will carry out a parallel investigation into the man’s conduct.
Lita Chartrand, 12, who lives near the scene and who spoke to the press with the permission of her mother, said she was listening to music near her upstairs bedroom window when she heard police shouting through a bullhorn.
"When I went to go look over there, I saw a bunch of cops with their guns up, and then I heard shooting… four shots," Chartrand said.
"I went downstairs and I started screaming, ‘Oh my God, somebody got shot.’ I didn’t really like the feeling of this because it was right outside our house. I didn’t really like the feeling of it. It was really scary."
At the scene, police officers repeatedly interfered with the media’s ability to report on the shooting.
At one point, an officer snatched a phone from a reporter's hands that had been given to him by an eyewitness to the shooting.
Later, while going door-to-door to speak with area residents, another officer approached the reporter and told him he had to leave and wasn’t allowed to speak with private citizens on public property outside the police cordon.
The Free Press was later able to obtain a different video of the shooting, filmed by someone from their upstairs window. The man who was shot is not visible at any point in the video.
In the opening frames, police can be seen taking cover as what sounds like a gunshot rings into the air. Afterward, an officer with a shotgun discharges at least one round, and two other officers with their guns drawn can be seen nearby.
"Don’t move! Roll over on your stomach. Roll over on your stomach," the officer says to the shot man as the video ends.
Carver said the very nature of the call to police — reports of an armed man —"suggests there would have been a danger to people in the area."
"That’s the nature of the call that was coming in, people were concerned," Carver said.
"We don’t need to be shot at before we fire back. If someone raises a weapon in our direction, our officers are expected to be able to stop that threat. In this case, officers discharged their weapons."
As police continued to linger in the area talking to residents, 12-year-old Chartrand, standing on her back steps with her mother, said she was shaken up by the shooting she’d witnessed hours before.
"It’s not really safe around here," she said, her voice quiet and soft.
"I don’t feel safe around here."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.