On Tuesday, a guard who previously worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre and pretended to be a police officer multiple times during confrontations with individuals from the community was given a sentence of house arrest.
Earlier this year, Andrew James Donald, age 42, pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer and illegally storing a firearm in Edmonton’s Court of Justice. As a result, he received a one-year community sentence followed by two years of probation.
In court, it was revealed that Donald had a consistent behavior of approaching people and falsely identifying himself as a police officer before the incident that led to his arrest. It was also mentioned that the severe brain injury and PTSD he suffered while working in the jail could have influenced his actions.
In July 2018, Donald, who was employed as a correctional officer, was put on leave by the Workers Compensation Board, as stated in a mutually accepted set of facts.
Donald engaged in five distinct altercations over the course of three years, during which he asserted his identity as a law enforcement officer.
According to the court, in May 2020, while walking their dogs in an Edmonton dog park, he and a friend encountered three men on bicycles who almost collided with their dogs. This led to a physical altercation, during which Donald showed his badge and revealed that he was an off-duty RCMP officer.
When Edmonton police responded to the scene where Donald was being treated as the victim of an assault, he also told them he was an RCMP officer. EPS later confirmed he wasn’t with the RCMP, and warned him not to claim to be an officer.
In September 2020, Donald visited the previous home of a friend in order to assist her in retrieving her possessions from a former roommate. However, when an altercation broke out between the two women, Donald stepped in and displayed a badge, falsely claiming to be a law enforcement officer. He also issued a threat to the roommate, stating that he would initiate an investigation against her. The roommate promptly contacted the police, but Donald departed before their arrival.
On November 23, 2020, less than a week later, Donald came under investigation once more. EPS received a report stating that he had falsely represented himself as a police officer to his Syrian Muslim neighbors and demanded to see their personal documents. EPS reiterated their warning to him about impersonating law enforcement.
On May 27, 2021, Donald initiated a pursuit of a woman who was driving on the Yellowhead Trail. He followed closely behind her, repeatedly honking his horn, and ultimately coerced her to pull over by positioning his truck in front of her vehicle.
Based on the established facts, he subsequently exited his vehicle and started shouting at the lady, demanding that she accelerate. He displayed a badge and warned her of a potential $300 penalty.
The man was shouted at by the woman, and she informed EPS about the situation.
Guns, uniforms, badges in home
In June 2021, Donald was taken into custody and his home was searched. The authorities discovered five firearms, one of which was a loaded handgun tucked beneath his living room couch. They also found ammunition, accessories for the firearms, handcuffs, and a collection of law enforcement items including fragments of RCMP uniforms, police peace officer and security uniforms, and a thin blue line police patch.
Donald possessed a license and documentation for the firearms.
A report from a psychiatric expert, submitted to the court on Tuesday, implied that the act of impersonation by Donald might be connected to his past experiences of emotional abuse during childhood, as well as his battles with depression, neurological impairment, and severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, it was noted that Donald had endured assaults from inmates while serving as a correctional officer.
Justice Kirk MacDonald has approved a mutually agreed upon proposal between the Crown prosecutor and the defense for Donald’s sentence. The first six months will be served under house arrest, followed by a curfew and several conditions. These conditions include avoiding any contact with the victims and a prohibition on possessing weapons.
MacDonald discovered that the assumption of power and authority by someone who is not entitled to it can lead to a decline in public trust. However, he also noted that Donald’s mental health challenges somewhat mitigate the extent of his accountability.
On Tuesday, Donald chose not to speak in front of the court.