Chilling statement

Lethbridge police chief allegedly threatened CBC Calgary reporter for exposing misconduct, commissioner rejects call for public inquiry

Lethbridge police chief Shahin Mehdizadeh allegedly threatened journalist Meghan Grant, a CBC Calgary investigative reporter who has written extensively about Lethbridge police misconduct. 

The threat to Grant was described in an anonymous letter detailing conversations within the police force, which was sent in June 2021 to NDP MLA Shannon Phillips. A second anonymous letter was sent to a woman who had accused a Lethbridge police officer of sexual assault. 

Mehdizadeh was revealed as the police official allegedly making the threat in documents obtained by the CBC and reported on June 10, 2022. 

The anonymous letter addressed to Philllips alleged that “Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks very negatively and in a sexist way about you daily at LPS. He is very vocal about a complaint he says he is preparing against you. He has said a number of times that he is going to ‘burn you and CBC’s Meghan Grant down.’”

In September 2021, Michael Bates — a lawyer who represents Phillips and the anonymous sexual assault complainant — called for a public inquiry into the alleged threats, but the Lethbridge police commission rejected the request, CBC reported on Nov. 22, 2021. 

At the time, Bates said the letters described a “suggestion of a potential plan of retaliation” against Grant and Phillips, “for what can be inferred as (them) having sought public accountability of the Lethbridge police service,” he told the Lethbridge Police Commission in a meeting on Sept. 29, 2021. 

Bates said at the time that the letters described conversations within the police force, but did not identify the chief as the alleged source of the threats against Phillips and Grant. 

Police commission chair Rob vanSpronsen said at the time that the request for an inquiry was “problematic” because the letters lacked “specific information that confirms they originate from” the police service, and that the allegations “lack any substantive supporting details.”

Asked for comment on the June 2022 revelation that the chief was allegedly the source of the threat, a spokesperson for the chief’s office repeated that the commission had already denied the request for an inquiry, CBC reported

The spokesperson also told CBC that the police service had not investigated the matter further after the request for an inquiry was dismissed.