N.S. RCMP decline to say much about police-involved shooting in Truro
Nova Scotia RCMP continues to provide little detail concerning a police-involved shooting in Truro, which left one man dead and an officer seriously injured.
On Saturday, a man who allegedly struck an RCMP officer with a stolen vehicle was shot to death. However, RCMP are not releasing the identity of the man or the officer involved.
"It's a very serious incident and it's fairly rare for this type of thing to happen in Nova Scotia,” says Cpl. Jennifer Clarke. “We absolutely understand that people are interested and want to know what happened – however, we have to respect the process."
"I don't recall that we've ever released the name of a police officer who has been involved in an incident like this. The only time I can imagine we would do that is if charges were being laid,” says Clarke. "We have been speaking with the family and they would like to pass on that they're very appreciative of the support from the public and they're asking for privacy at this time."
Despite the demand for information concerning the incident, the RCMP say the Privacy Act prevents them from releasing personal information.
"There are several exceptions under the Privacy Act where we could release personal information,” says Clarke. “That would be if it was in the public interest, if it was a public safety concern, or if it might further the investigation. In this case, none of those conditions are met."
Privacy lawyer David Fraser says it's extremely rare for police or the Serious Incident Response Team to disclose any significant amount of information about an ongoing investigation.
"They can disclose information when it's considered to be in the public interest – and public interest is different than what's of interest to the public,” says Fraser. “There has to be a compelling reason why they would disclose."
Fraser says he's in favour of transparency, but believes the privacy laws are properly balanced in this case. However, the lack of information from officials has many people sharing their own thoughts and theories concerning the incident – which Fraser says is cause for concern.
"In this day in age, you often do end up with a lot of speculation that happens online,” says Fraser. “I think that has to go into the thinking of the police and whether it's in the public interest to get ahead of a story, whether it's in the public interest to quell rumours to provide accurate information – so that these rumours don't spread."
RCMP say they are investigating information that was shared relating to the officer involved in the incident and his medical status. They say they will take action when they establish who shared the information.
Meanwhile, SIRT continues to investigate the fatal shooting, and note they will only release the name of the officer involved if charges are laid.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Natasha Pace