Winnipeg father questions police response after witnessing officers shooting at suspects’ vehicle

A Winnipeg father is questioning the response by Winnipeg Police Service after officers shot at suspects during a chase.

Vincent Curci told CTV News he was driving down Nairn Avenue Wednesday night when he saw officers trying to stop a vehicle near the intersection at Panet Road.

Curci said he thought police must be conducting a checkstop and slowed down to see what was happening, then realized officers were out of their police cars and had a vehicle surrounded.

Curci said it looked like the person driving the vehicle tried to hop a cement median to evade police.

“They tried to hit the window out and failed, and that’s when they opened fire,” said Curci.

Narrowly making it through the intersection before the other vehicle, Curci said he just missed being t-boned by the suspects.

“We were coming through the intersection as they were shooting at the car, so we drove right through the line of fire,” said Curci.

Recovering at home on Thursday, Curci said he planned to file a complaint with police and questioned the decision to shoot at suspects with other people in the intersection.

Curci’s 10-year-old daughter Deanna said she was struggling to process Wednesday’s events.

“It all happened so fast. I thought it was just going to be a normal night: come home, get ready for school tomorrow, and everything just happened,” she said.

At a press conference Wednesday police said that the pursuit started in the area of McLeod Avenue and Raleigh Street around 8:35 p.m. when officers were called for a report of an assault with a weapon.

The suspects fled in a vehicle, and police chased them, but eventually had to stop as they were driving at what police described as a reckless speed.

Other officers then spotted the vehicle at Panet Road and Nairn Avenue and blocked the suspects using a containment block, but the suspects allegedly rammed through it. At this point officers said they fired their guns to stop “the threat of bodily harm/death to them and other police officers,” but it didn’t stop the chase.

Police followed the suspects’ car to the area of Marion Street and Archibald Street, where the suspects left the road and started driving along railway tracks.

Eventually, police apprehended a female and two males along the railway lines and brought them into custody. During this arrest, a member of the Winnipeg police was hit by a train. He was then treated at the hospital and released.

A 23-year-old man was taken to hospital and treated for a gunshot wound, then taken back into custody.

The investigation has been taken over by the Independent Investigations Unit of Manitoba.

When asked about the shooting and how police balanced mitigating the risk to the public and a threat to officers, Const. Rob Carver said the vehicle ramming through a police blockade was a risk to the public.

“High rates of speed and lots of energy in the car being used in the vehicle to get away: if it blasts or rams through ours and were to hit another vehicle or pedestrian, they would be at our risk. Our officers are at risk,” said Carver.

“At that point officers used firearms to stop that type of threat,” said Carver.