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Alberta man who led police on chase that led to hail of bullets sentenced to 5 years in jail

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FORT SASKATCHEWAN — A person who led police on a “harrowing” chase that ended with officers capturing him and fatally wounding his girlfriend has been sentenced to only below 5 years in jail. 

Dawson Steinhauer pleaded responsible in Fort Saskatchewan’s Alberta court docket of justice Wednesday to prices of legal flight, armed theft, pointing a firearm and breaching a weapons prohibition.

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With credit score for time in pretrial custody, Steinhauer has round three-and-a-half years left to serve.

Steinhauer, 22, was the motive force throughout a police chase final summer time. Throughout the chase, Steinhauer’s passenger, Religion Prohl, allegedly fired a rifle at police from the shifting automobile.

After the automobile’s tires have been destroyed by a spike belt, Steinhauer and Prohl stopped at a gasoline station the place they stole a truck at gunpoint. Police ultimately tracked them to a wooded space close to Smoky Lake and opened hearth when Steinhauer pointed the rifle at them.

The Alberta Critical Incident Response Workforce is investigating whether or not police used acceptable pressure in responding to the incident.

In keeping with an agreed assertion of information, the chase started Aug. 8, 2022, when an RCMP officer patrolling Saddle Lake Cree Nation noticed Steinhauer behind the wheel of a Lincoln SUV registered to Prohl.

Believing Prohl could be being held towards her will, the officer flashed his lights and sounded his siren. The Lincoln took off whereas the Mountie gave chase and radioed for backup.

Throughout the pursuit, the Lincoln reached speeds of 160 km/h and repeatedly drove into oncoming site visitors. It will definitely hit a spike belt officers laid at Freeway 28 and Vary Highway 155 however continued driving on the edges at freeway speeds.

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At one level, Prohl leaned out the passenger’s window and fired a number of rounds from an SKS rifle on the pursuing police autos. The police dropped again because the chase entered the city of Smoky Lake, the place Steinhauer and Prohl stole a truck from a person refuelling on the Centex station.

The agreed information say Steinhauer approached the person as he exited the gasoline station, pointed the rifle in his face and stated “I would like your automobile.”

Steinhauer and Prohl then fled within the truck down a mud path, leaving a cloud of mud as they crested a hill. Police misplaced observe of the automobile and known as in a canine crew, which tracked the 2 to a area close to a church east of city.

Police ultimately sighted the couple and opened hearth when Steinhauer raised the rifle. Prohl was killed whereas Steinhauer was struck within the chest and arm and needed to be airlifted to hospital in Edmonton.

‘A class of circumstances’

Prosecutor Patricia Hankinson and defence lawyer David Phillips agreed to a sentence of slightly below 5 years, which Justice Karl Wilberg agreed was acceptable given Steinhauer’s responsible plea.

He famous Steinhauer remains to be a younger man who, regardless of his legal historical past, has the assist of his household, a number of of whom appeared in court docket. Wilberg stated the assist of household improves Steinhauer’s possibilities of rehabilitation.

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“You’re fortunate your loved ones is right here with you,” Wilberg instructed him. “I’ve days the place the courtroom is totally packed, and I may need one or perhaps two circumstances the place there’s a member of the family current.”

Wilberg stated circumstances involving firearms and police chases are “harrowing” and have grow to be distressingly frequent. He stated such circumstances sometimes carry sentences of 4 to seven years in jail however have been “virtually unprecedented” when he started practising regulation within the Nineteen Eighties. 

“This has grow to be a class of circumstances,” he stated.

“There are sometimes individuals who grow to be concerned in a lifetime of crime … they’ve weapons, they’re in a automobile, usually stolen. There may be an tried police cease, and it then escalates.” 

Wilberg acknowledged a Gladue report ready for Steinhauer, which outlined the position colonization and authorities coverage towards Indigenous folks performed in his troublesome upbringing. Phillips famous his shopper has FASD, misplaced a number of members of the family to violence and commenced utilizing marijuana when he was youthful than 10.

Phillips stated his shopper feels regret, particularly over the dying of Prohl, and remains to be in ache from his wounds.

Steinhauer was awarded the usual one-and-a-half day’s credit score for every day spent in remand. Six remaining counts have been withdrawn.

The person whose truck was stolen filed a sufferer affect assertion saying he nonetheless struggles with anxiousness and needed to pay out of pocket to cowl the harm to his truck, which was not lined by insurance coverage.

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