June 10, 2011 Killing of Corey Peeace

A.S.I.R.T. Director Cliff Purvis verified that the Calgary policeman who first handcuffed and tasered (& later shot and killed) Corey Peeace is four-division officer Stephen Cook. This officer may have motive – wanting to end a lawsuit against him for tasering Peeace while handcuffed and the Calgary Police Service for Human Rights abuses.

On the evening of June 10, 2011, Corey Peeace (pronounced Pea-Ace) and his extended family were watching a National Hockey League playoff game at Corey’s home in Calgary. Like many other families across Canada, they were gathered around the family set, eating, some of them having a couple of beers as they cheered for their favoured team.

At around 6 p.m., an argument broke out between family members over a missing package of cigarettes opened by Corey moments before – Corey became uncharacteristically angry and a family member called his mother, Stella who had just left the house.

There are differences between the story being told by the police and the story being told by the family about the police response that ended when a police officer felt justified in shooting Corey four times in the chest to death.

If you read about it in the city’s three newspapers, or watched on the 4 major networks, one would be led to believe that the shooting was justified.

After two conferences with Peeace’s family directly regarding the circumstances into Corey’s death, a picture emerged from the family that not only seemed reasonable, but credible. This is their story and one that has never been told by the Calgary media.

The story actually began in another house on another street in the same “Erin Woods” neighbourhood in Calgary. It is a neighbourhood, not unlike any other neighbourhood in Calgary where the houses are crammed together, most made cheaply and rented out.

There were two “First Nations’ families” in this neighbourhood, Corey’s and his neighbours who lived two houses down. One night, the police from “Four Division” raided both houses, apparently because of a “gun call.”

In a flash, police members shoved the faces of the two families down into the ground, all hands restrained behind their backs, each of them thoroughly searched. Then there were a lot of high fives and derogatory racial slurs made against the two native families by the police officers on the scene. It is interesting to note that the house in between the native families’ homes lived a white family and was excluded from raid.

The raids turned up no weapons in the subsequent search of the homes of the two families and there were no charges laid.

After the incident, Corey Peeace lodged with a Human Rights Commission of which the outcome is unknown.

After the incident, Corey’s family relocated to a new home a couple of blocks away. In February 2010, the family was watching an Olympic Hockey game when an argument broke out between Corey and his spouse Vanessa. 911 was dialed on that night as well.

After the short argument, Corey went to his bed and slept. Quite literally, he was dead to the world. Another call was placed to 911 to tell the dispatcher that Corey had gone to bed and was no longer any issue.

It was over 50 minutes after the initial 911 call before officers showed up at the front door, even after the call to say they were no longer needed.

This report did not name the officers because it seems to be police policy here in Calgary not to name officers in such incidents, including when an officer shoots a civilian dead. This is unlike the policy in other forces such as the Toronto Police Services and the Ontario Provincial Police, where officers involved in serious incidents are named to the public.

The officers entered the family’s residence without invitation, demanding to know where Corey was. They were adamantly told that he was asleep and their presence was not required, but they continued uninvited into their home and found Corey in his bedroom. The officers then proceeded to physically wake Corey up.

Corey, in a alcohol induced slumber, was not aware that the police were in his room and he batted them away. He wanted to do nothing more than sleep. The officers perceived this as an assault on police officers and proceeded to handcuff Corey behind his back.

One officer got on top of Corey’s back with one knee with his other knee pushed into Corey’s ribs.

With Corey well restrained, the other officer then discharged his taser on Corey in front of his on-looking family.

One of the officers then proceeded to try to pressure Corey’s spouse to utter a statement declaring that Corey had hit her but she refused to lie.

Corey was charged with assault and made to endure the process of the Calgary Courts. The Crown Prosecutor’s Office refused to drop the assault charges and rather used the false charge in order to maneuver Corey into a plea bargain that saw him agree to take anger management classes. The discharge meant that there would be no criminal record, yet still being portrayed by the press as having one.

When Corey returned home from court that day to tell the family the outcome of the court proceedings, they all broke out into laughter because Corey was so rarely brought to the boiling point of those the anger management classes are meant to target.

Because of the tasering, Corey also lodged a complaint with Professional Standards against the two officers. He also began proceedings with a Calgary lawyer, who warned Corey that the police had “goon squads” that went around harassing people who lodged complaints against the police. This seems to be common knowledge here in Calgary and fear allows these incidents to continue without opposition.

Corey’s family wants everyone to know that Corey was a hardworking family man, who held a steady job. He had a university education, but drove a delivery truck for a grocery chain, which paid the bills and supported his family.

Corey is said to have “provided for his family and never left any of them wanting for anything.” The family all smiled as they remembered his proclivity for barbecues and feeding everyone who came to them. He also cared for other members of his family, like his brother Kenny, who while living in Toronto suffered a stroke.

It was Corey who gave him a place to live after he was medically released from hospital care. Everyone in the family helped to care for Kenny, who needed to walk with a cane and was progressing in his speech.

Everyone, who met Corey, liked him. Everyone but the two police officers who tasered Corey and on June 10, 2011 returned to his home within minutes of the 911 call being placed.

This time, family members witnessed the two police officers approach with their guns drawn, a contradiction to police reports that their guns were not drawn before they kicked the door open. Neither officer uttered any warning to Corey. Scared, Corey’s neice, (who was terrified at the sight of the approaching gunmen) quickly shut and locked the front door to Corey’s home. Within short moments the officers had kicked in the front door and found Corey standing in his kitchen – stunned with a sandwich knife in his hand.

A sandwich knife by the way, that had a broken hilt and would have made a lousy weapon to attack anyone with, let alone an armed police officer. The family says that Corey would never have used this sandwich knife or anything else as a weapon – he had never in the past – and simply did not have it in him.

It remains obvious that 40-year-old Corey Peeace did not stand a chance. The door flew open, bang, bang, bang, bang and Corey was lying on the floor, dying in a growing pool of his own blood.

Neither in police reports to the media, nor in statements from the family, was Corey warned to “put his weapon” down, which contrasts greatly from appropriate police procedure. Everyone deserves that chance.

Following the shooting, the chief of police Rick Hansen was quick to make statements to the press regarding details of the shooting immediately exonerating his officers, even before the official investigation began. One of those details he discussed in a “SUN TV” interview was that there was a “disconnect call” made to 911 regarding a “threatening situation” in the home.

He made another statement in which in said that there had been a “hang-up phone call.”

When asked, the person who placed the 911-telephone call was genuinely shocked to hear that the chief of police was making those claims. The caller is adamant that 911 recordings will show that she was on the
line from the time she place the telephone call until after Corey had been shot. She maintained that the line was not “hung-up,” nor was there any “disconnection” of the call.

The chief of police went on in that interview to say that the 911 operators heard a “distinct threat” and other press have reported that those words were, “someone is going to die today.”

There were several members of the family that were on scene at the time of the entire incident and were stunned in response. One of Corey’s three sons bewildered by the comments then said that the words, “someone is going to die today,” is just not something that his dad would have ever said. It wasn’t in his nature. Everyone agreed. In fact it turns out that Corey and his family were afraid for his life and understood him to be saying “Oh great, now somebody’s gonna die today” – meaning HIM. If so, Corey was correct. Corey’s statement was inaccurately reported to the media and this misperception has been allowed to stand.

All present agreed that Corey was not in any way acting in a threatening manner, nor was there anyone in danger at anytime other than by police.

The family admits that a disagreement existed between Corey and family members and that the alcohol that had been consumed had blown the issue out of proportion. There are family members who feel a great deal of guilt as a result of their own actions, but none of them pulled the trigger.

The family, who had spent the last several hours with Corey all state that at no time was anyone in danger of being harmed.

Police are adamant that a split second decision was all that was necessary to judge that Corey’s life ought to be brought to an end right there and then. Chief Rick Hansen before the investigation even began determined to sell to the public through an unquestioning press that Corey was a danger to human life. The media acquiesced and released statements to the public that were untrue.

They even reported that Corey did indeed have a criminal record as the press began to vilify the victim and this has happened in other police shootings as well. There are screen captures of comments made to and published by the press that shows an unnatural tolerance for these killings, although it is suspected that some of these comments came from other radical police officers on the force.

Immediately after Corey had been shot, many police officers converged on the scene, the family says more than 30, all within five minutes of the call to 911.

Contrary to proper police procedure and despite the presence of a back exit, family members were then made to walk out of their home through the front door and over the dying body of Corey. Did this not interfere with what then should have been considered a crime scene until the death could have received an investigative ruling?

By disturbing the scene, police may have obliterated evidence valuable to the investigation. The family states that officers then entered the home as they were being taken away and before the arrival of the investigators from the Province’s Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT). Police have made statements that there were other weapons nearby.

A walk-through of the night’s events with the family shows that Corey was standing just inside the front door. The only items available to him were the family’s shoes on a mat.

One family member, a minor, recalls protesting to the police at having to exit her home over the dying body of her dearest Uncle Corey. It just wasn’t right to her.

The family was herded into separate vehicles, taken away and put into separate rooms at the number four-division facility near Marlborough. Without counsel they were questioned, including the minors who were not even allowed the presence of a guardian during the questioning of that night or during subsequent questioning, contrary to proper police procedures. One element of the story that failed to even make it into the press, despite noting nothing more than “other injuries” may have been reported. It has never been revealed to the public what happened to Corey’s brother Kenny.

The brother that the family cared for after the stroke, who walked with a cane, was not moving fast enough when police removed them from their home. Kenny had been made to walk over his dying brother and made it to the stoop of the front porch.

One officer grabbed Kenny by the front of his shirt and pulled him down the stairs to go faster, but Kenny’s brain couldn’t handle what was being demanded of him and he fell to the ground smashing his skull against the walk.

Family pleaded with police to get Kenny medical help or to let the ambulance through, but the officers just let him lay on the ground just as they did Corey. Family members state that medical attention was withheld from both men while an ambulance was kept waiting at the end of the street by police. Kenny was eventually rushed to Calgary’s Foothills Hospital needing surgery and now has to once again undertake the recovery of a brain injury.

Corey’s niece talked about cleaning and organizing the basement just prior to that night, but when the family returned home, they found it a mess. They all wondered what it was that the police were looking for.

With the loss of her spouse, their father, brother, uncle and friend, the family decided to move away from the place where Corey was so mercilessly and senselessly slaughtered. Another “First Nations’ Family” moved into the residence and shortly thereafter received a short letter simply stating, “Move out or die.”

During this period, area neighbourhoods also found many racist posters posted in the neighbourhood. One has to wonder just what is going on?

Family members have asked for Corey’s belongings back. ASIRT members refused stating to the Peeace family that they are investigating this as a homicide stating that the police officer will never go on duty again. The police officer has since returned to the streets after a month of desk duty.
In a subsequent shooting in another neighbourhood in Four-division, another man was shot and similarly treated by the press. Without a questioning press, the killing will never stop.

UPDATE: In late April 2012, the name of the officer was determined as the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, investigating the killing, determined that the shooting was indeed justified. The press did not report that Peeace lost his life over a package of cigarettes. From a photograph taken during interviews, it was the niece who was standing nearest to Peeace just before he was shot, but the niece is adamant that Peeace was NOT threatening her despite what was reported in the press about the A.S.I.R.T. investigation. In fact, reenactments of the A.S.I.R.T. report findings show that A.S.I.R.T. did indeed cover-up the murder of Peeace as their version of the events do not make any sense as they awarded the officer with a life saving award. The only conclusion one can draw is that the corruption in Alberta is so pervasive, with criminal elements having tentacles in the Government of Alberta, in the courts, in the Crown Prosecutor’s Office and in the police that any normal citizen doesn’t have a chance.

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