Dozens of mourners packed St. Mary’s Russian Orthodox Church Saturday for the funeral of Vitaly Savin.
The 55-year-old man was fatally shot by police on March 9th in Edmonton’s Hodgson neighbourhood.
A six-year veteran of the Edmonton Police Service pulled over the vehicle near Hollands Landing, following two separate 911 calls reporting a possibly impaired driver.
According to police, the officer and the driver being pulled over got out of their vehicles and that’s when an “encounter” occurred which led to the officer shooting the driver. The officer and others performed CPR until EMS arrived, but the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
“The biggest question right now is [how] this can happen with anyone,” said Sergey Timoshchenko, honourary consul for the Russian Federation in Edmonton.
He said Savin was known in the Russian community for organizing events for veterans and seniors. Timoshchenko described the alleged altercation as out-of-character for the man he knew.
“All [ of the] community is still in shock,” he said. “Our main goal is to contact the Canadian government and our members of Parliament and ask them to review the rules for using firearms by the police.”
Timoshchenko said the group has already been in touch with the police union in hopes of better understanding the events that led to the fatal shooting.
“We will wait for the investigation and we will see what will happen.”
Timoshchenko thanked the community for its support of Savin’s family back in Russia.
Savin had been in Canada for about a decade, according to Timoshchenko. He worked for an Edmonton-based construction company and supported his mother and children still in Russia.
“We’ve received a lot of emails from his family, classmates,” Timoshenko said. “Everyone is shocked that this happened.”
ASIRT has taken over the investigation and said it will focus on “the circumstances surrounding the confrontation that resulted in the discharging of the officer’s police weapon.”
Savin’s widow Svetlana Timofeeva spoke through an interpreter at Saturday’s service.
“It’s very hard for me right now; The only thing that helps are friends of Vitaly’s and mine,” she said. “I just want to say thank you to everybody that stayed around me and helped me in this hard time and it’s not only the Russian community. Vitaly had a lot of Canadian friends who he worked with.”
She described her late husband as a caring, happy man who loved people.
“I felt that he supported me, and I wasn’t afraid of anything in this world being with him.”
With files from Caley Ramsay