Calgary police called in 2008 to domestic incident involving Sean Chu and firearm

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Sean Chu, who narrowly won re-election Monday in Ward 4 by 52 votes, was involved in a 2008 fight with his wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm, CBC News has confirmed through court records.  (Bryan Labby/CBC - image credit)
Sean Chu, who narrowly won re-election Monday in Ward 4 by 52 votes, was involved in a 2008 fight with his wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm, CBC News has confirmed through court records. (Bryan Labby/CBC - image credit)

Embattled Incumbent Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu — a former Calgary police officer — was involved in a 2008 fight with his wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm, CBC News has confirmed through court records.

The argument took place in February 2008, when Sean Chu was running in a provincial election for the Progressive Conservatives in Calgary-Buffalo. He ultimately lost on March 3 to Liberal Kent Hehr.

Although there was no criminal charge laid, police seized the gun and, in consultation with prosecutors, set a date for a firearms disposal hearing before a judge, according to court records.

"Under the Criminal Code, if a weapon was seized because there were grounds to believe it was not safe for a person to possess it, the Crown can apply within 30 days to prevent it from being returned to that person if doing so would not be in the interests of the person's own safety or the safety of someone else," explains defence lawyer and law instructor Kelsey Sitar.

Chu is facing mounting pressure from council colleagues to resign over reported misconduct involving physically touching a 16-year-old girl while he was a 34-year-old police officer.

By Wednesday afternoon, all but two of Chu's council colleagues had spoken out about the situation.

Chu initially denied firearm involved

Chu has provided two conflicting statements about the incident to CBC News.

First, Chu confirmed there was a 2008 argument with his wife that resulted in him attending counselling but denied a firearm was involved.

"I have not seen any documentation substantiating this claim and it cannot be stated as 'fact,'" he wrote.

On Wednesday, Chu provided a second statement, admitting there was a gun involved in the conflict but said it was never retrieved from its locked cabinet.

Spouse 'worried he might harm himself'

Chu said that in 2008 he had a licensed sport shooting rifle stored in a locked and secure cabinet in his home.

"Feeling distraught, I went downstairs to the cabinet intending to retrieve it but ultimately did not do so," said Chu in his statement.

Chu said the argument came at "a particularly low and stressful point" in his life and that he voluntarily sought counselling.

In a written statement provided to CBC News Chu's ex-wife confirmed the incident and said she never wanted to involve police.

"I worried he might harm himself," said Chu's former spouse in an email.

"Sean has never physically threatened or harmed myself or our children."

Hearing didn't go ahead

On June 12, 2008, the contested hearing was withdrawn, according to court records.

That suggests Crown and defence lawyers likely came to an agreement as to whether the firearm would be permanently seized or returned, according to Sitar.

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) says Chu was on a personal unpaid leave of absence while he was campaigning in 2008.

CPS Chief Mark Neufeld confirmed the 2008 incident in a written statement Wednesday evening.

"The incident was investigated, and given the sensitivities involved, we engaged the Crown in Edmonton and no charges were laid," said Neufeld.

"I want to be clear; since this incident occurred our processes have evolved."

The chief said, had the incident happened today, the Director of Law Enforcement would have been notified and the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team would have been called in to investigate.

Sean Chu/Twitter
Sean Chu/Twitter

Chu, who has served as a city councillor since 2013, won Monday's municipal election in Ward 4 by 52 votes over DJ Kelly.

That narrow win comes amid recent reports he was found guilty of discreditable conduct when he was a police officer for having inappropriate physical contact with a minor.

Since Monday, there have been calls, including from mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek and Premier Jason Kenney, for Chu's resignation.

On Wednesday evening, outgoing Mayor Naheed Nenshi tweeted reaction to this story, calling on Chu to step down.

Chu's return to work

During the 2008 fight, Chu's ex-wife made a comment he felt was disrespectful to him, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

After Chu allegedly pulled out the firearm, his wife left the home and called police.

Chu was taken to District 8 offices, spending the night at a police facility before returning home within the week, according to the source.

Chu was back to work at CPS in May 2008.

Disciplined for physical contact with teen

Chu has been under scrutiny since CBC News broke the story last week that when he was a 34-year-old police officer in 1997 he faced allegations that involved a 16-year-old girl.

Details in the story came from two Law Enforcement Review Board decisions on appeals filed in connection with the internal police investigation.

Chu said he was found guilty of misconduct for touching her leg under a table in a public place, according to his statement.

But the teen, now a woman, said at the time that she was sexually assaulted at Chu's home.

Chief Neufeld said in his statement that the Calgary police sex crimes unit investigated and, in consultation with an Edmonton prosecutor, no criminal charges were laid.

Chu was found guilty on one count of discreditable conduct under the Alberta Police Act and a letter of reprimand was placed on his file for a five-year period, expiring in 2008.

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