'The law fought the stump and the stump won'

It’s been nearly a year since the Edmonton Police got their new armoured vehicle hung up on an ornamental crab apple tree stump in Candas Dorsey’s yard after an incident with an intruder. We checked in with Dorsey to find out about the aftermath of this now infamous incident. 

“Let’s just say some bad decisions were made and no one has ever come back and talked to us,” said Dorsey. 

“If I was the cops, I would be using this as an example of what not to do.”

Left, picture of EPS armoured vehicle hung up on a stump, leaking transmission fluid. Right, Candas Dorsey in her backyard in September.

Dorsey is a writer who lives in the community of Boyle Street behind the city’s roadway maintenance central yard. 

On November 30, 2021 an intruder broke into Dorsey’s unoccupied basement. Dorsey’s partner thought he might have seen a gun, and he quickly called the cops. Because of the possibility of a gun her house and the street quickly filled up with armed police. The streets were blocked off, the house was surrounded and the police helicopter was on a tight loop around the property.

The intruder, who had broken into an unoccupied basement suite that didn’t have any access to Dorsey’s house, hunkered down and refused to come out. Police broke the windows into the basement, threw flashbang grenades into it, and exhorted the intruder to surrender over a loudspeaker, but the intruder stayed inside.. 

Dorsey says she was very grateful for the assistance from the police—at first. “It's reassuring when you think your house has a person with a gun in it to know there are people at the other end of a 911 call who are prepared to come and deal with this problem. But stay tuned, because there will be issues later.”

About halfway through the siege Dorsey and her partner were escorted out at which point they handed the key to the back door to the cops. This key would have given them access to the back door and to the suite which was occupied by the intruder. A few hours later the intruder eventually gave himself up without incident and thankfully without a gun. 

But by the time Dorsey came around to the back of her house she noticed a problem. The intruder was gone, but now a massive armoured vehicle was hung up on a stump in her backyard, and it was leaking transmission fluid onto the snow. Dorsey’s fence was also knocked over, and multiple fence posts, trees and bushes had been either sawed down or knocked including a mature pear tree, a 14 foot Ohio buckeye, grape vines, haskap bushes, blackberries and a lilac bush. 

According to Dorsey, after she was escorted out of her house the police had decided to breach the back door to the occupied suite—even though Dorsey had just given them the key to the door. That’s what they brought the armoured vehicle in for, to breach the door, but it never made it all the way there, getting stuck on the stump first.. 

Ultimately the armoured vehicle had to be towed out of Dorsey’s backyard. By the time it was removed it had spilled so much transmission fluid that Dorsey’s yard was thoroughly contaminated. She says that not only did she have to replace the destroyed fence, but most of the topsoil in her backyard, too.

Now nearly a year later she’s still dealing with the aftermath of the incident. Dorsey estimates the cost to fix her backyard to be between $22,000 and $25,000, thankfully covered by insurance. 

“It’s about 10 months on and it’s just starting to look like a backyard. I did all this work just to get the same yard,” said Dorsey back in September. She has had to put considerable time in as a project manager dealing with the various contractors and with no fence she has dealt with a lot of theft from her yard.    

EPS’s vehicle fared better. A freedom of information request shows that the damage to the armoured vehicle was relatively minor: some welding needed to be done to the right rear bumper and a new auxiliary transmission cooler was installed. The bill for those repairs was $1244. 

Since we spoke in September Candas has been busily getting her little orchard of a backyard back in shape before the snow arrived with a white mulberry tree, a couple of blackcurrant bushes and a black raspberry bush. While the goal was to have the fence in before it got cold, unfortunately that didn’t work out and the contractor will be putting up a temporary construction fence over the winter. 

While Dorsey has had to sink a lot of time into managing the project she’s had a lot of help from her neighbors to get it back to what it was. There have been three separate work bees to help plant new trees and bushes.

“It’s been really wonderful the way people have rallied around and helped,” said Dorsey. “That’s been the best part.” 

“After all of this there’s a song going through my head. The law fought the stump and the stump won.”