Officers kill woman wielding toy gun


A composite image showing two different guns, the top one a real handgun (text label illegible) and the bottom one the black-painted Airsoft pistol held by the victim.
Incident ID
Incident Title
Officers kill woman wielding toy gun
Incident Date
Incident Description
Around 2pm on January 16, 2010, 911 dispatch received a call from Bernadette Auger (48) over a dispute she was having with her adult sons, requesting police presence, but partway into the call Ms. Auger's common-law partner, George Coward, told the dispatcher that Ms. Auger was drunk, and not to send officers, then hung up the phone. Dispatch called the number back and informed Mr. Coward that police were en route. When the two dispatched officers arrived at the walk-up apartment at 119th Avenue and 84th Street, they went inside, where they encountered Ms. Auger on a stair landing, holding what appeared to be a gun (but was later determined to be a toy Airsoft gun painted black). Ms. Auger pointed the "gun" at the officers and followed them down the stairs and outside as they retreated from the building, but went back inside after the officers crouched behind a vehicle to call for assistance. While inside, Ms. Auger called 911 again, and had a conversation with the operator in which she asked to speak to the police outside, apologized, and indicated she had a gun. She then went back outside, where there were now at least 5 police officers including a Dog Master with a police dog. When she came outside, the Dog Master Detective Kassian determined she was not a serious threat and stood from cover to release the dog. Ms. Auger saw him stand up and raised the "gun" in his direction. While the officers called for Ms. Auger to drop the gun, the police dog "got confused" (per the provincial fatality inquiry) and bit another police officer on the leg. In the Fatality Inquiry, the possible reasons given for the dog's confusion were that Ms. Auger was not moving, which is not the scenario police dogs are trained for, and that Ms. Auger was wearing a white t-shirt against the backdrop of snow, so the dog was unable to focus on her. Immediately after Ms. Auger raised the "gun", Detective Kassian raised his own service weapon and shot her in the head. Another officer stationed across the road, Constable Bondarchuk, shot Ms. Auger in the neck simultaneously. Ms. Auger was killed instantly, with both shots occurring near simultaneously. A third and fourth officer attempted to fire on Ms. Auger at the same time but were interrupted by the police dog attack.

In the following investigation, it was determined that Ms. Auger was taking several prescription medications for chronic pain and other issues that, combined with alcohol, produced a sedative effect that likely altered her behaviour. Per the Fatality Inquiry, "Mr. Coward, in his interview with the police, believed that Ms. Auger was attempting to commit suicide by forcing the police to shoot her. This opinion is supported by the fact that she had tried to commit suicide in the past, she was under chronic pain due to injuries suffered in the car accident six years before, she sent him away after calling 911 and after knowing that the police were on the way, she knew the toy gun she carried could be confused for a real firearm, she met the police in the stairwell and pointed the gun at the officers, she pursued them down the stairwell, she pursued the officers out of the building, when she couldn’t see them, she called 911 and asked the operator to send the police to her suite, she then pursued the police out of the building again, raising the gun directly at Detective Kassian from a distance of seven meters" (Report to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Public Fatality Inquiry, January 30, 2013). ASIRT was directed to investigate the incident and in September 2010 issued a finding that the officers acted lawfully and their actions were justified. The decision of the Public Fatality Inquiry held in 2012 was that "In this case, there was nothing that the police could have done differently when faced with these events. Accordingly, there are no recommendations to make for the prevention of similar deaths." Ms. Auger suffered from serious chronic pain and brain damage from a car accident six years before the incident, which were cited as relevant factors in the course of events. Per ASIRT director Clifton Purvis' comment on their findings, police dogs becoming confused and attacking officers is not uncommon in heated situations (Edmonton Journal, Sept 16, 2010).
Description Type
Non-eyewitness, based on documentation
Incident City
Incident Neighbourhood
Injuries Incurred
Gunshot wound
Weapon used
Gun: service weapon
Type of Abuse
Fatal violence
Physical violence
Victim Gender
Victim Race
First Nations, Inuit and Metis
Authority Involved
Edmonton Police Service
Officer Physical Description
5 officers, 1 police dog
Officer Gender
Complaint Resolution
Force deemed reasonable by ASIRT investigation and Public Fatality Inquiry.
Submission Source
Research team
From published source
Archive Publication Date
Item sets
Fatal Incidents