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Police officer justified in shooting man during vehicle takedown in Kelowna: IIO report

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. said it will not be referring charges to Crown for consideration after looking into an incident in Kelowna in which a man was shot by police.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. said it will not be referring charges to Crown for consideration after looking into an incident in Kelowna in which a man was shot by police. B. Morley

Charges will not be referred after an investigation into a police takedown at a Kelowna mall, with officers firing several shots at a vehicle and two bullets hitting the suspect.

On Friday, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. released a report into a ‘serious harm’ police incident at Orchard Park Mall on Jan. 23, 2019.

The takedown happened outside the CIBC branch in the mall’s parking lot, with a witness telling Global News at the time that she heard “a bang and a lot of commotion” outside the bank.

She added there was blood over the parking lot and debris over a car. Overall, she called it a “pretty freaky incident.”

READ MORE: Midday police shooting shocks witnesses in Kelowna

The IIO report said in the days leading up to the incident, police were investigating the subject for a number of violent criminal offences.

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Police told the IIO they had a plan to arrest him, with assistance of Emergency Response Team members, “as he was known to be armed and dangerous.”

The report said the subject was driving a stolen Chevrolet Tahoe, which was being tracked by a plainclothes surveillance team. The plan included immobilizing the Tahoe via its OnStar system in a less-populated area.

“The ERT leader told IIO investigators that, based on reliable information, his threat assessment for the arrest was high,” said the report. “[The subject] had a history with firearms, and was believed to be in possession of a firearm on the day in question.”
Follow-up to Wednesday shooting at mall parking lot in Kelowna
Follow-up to Wednesday shooting at mall parking lot in Kelowna

On the day of the incident, police said the subject was parked in a suitable location for his arrest, and a four-vehicle ERT team moved in.

The remote shutdown, however, failed, allowing the subject to flee the scene at high speeds.

The Tahoe was tracked to the mall, but officers spotted the subject and two companions in a taxi, heading for an exit.

“Concerned that [the subject], seeing the police vehicles, would flee again — this time with a potential hostage -— [the ERT leader] ordered ERT members to conduct a tactical vehicle takedown to stop the taxi,” said the report.

READ MORE: Kelowna officer cleared in accident with cyclist: IIO report

One ERT vehicle struck the front of the taxi while another stopped beside it, with a third pulling up from behind. The report said the takedown was conducted at low speeds.

The report said an “explosive distraction device” was deployed, and officers took control of the taxi driver and the subject’s two companions. The subject, though, ran from the taxi towards the bank, pursued by ERT members.

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The ERT leader said it appeared that the subject reached into his pocket as he ran, increasing the risk assessment.

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As he fled from the taxi towards the bank, the report continued, the subject ran across an empty and unlocked Dodge with its engine running. The subject jumped into the car.

“At this point, several officers were on foot in close proximity, their firearms aimed at the subject, and orders were directed at him to cooperate and show his hands,” said the report.

The subject, though, threw the Dodge into reverse and accelerated backwards rapidly. Officers jumped out of the way, with the front of the car swerving and the rear hitting a stationary SUV. The car then drove forward, “with the engine revving and tires spinning as the Dodge headed towards ERT members.”

“Even though eyewitness accounts of the movements of the stolen Dodge varied considerably, they all described the vehicle as being driven by the subject in a wild and dangerous manner,” said the report.

The subject told the IIO one officer was “dead in front of me” and shot through the windshield from about 10 feet away.

The officer told the IIO he discharged “multiple rounds” from his firearm at the AP, but stopped firing after observing that the subject was reacting as if he had been hit.

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The report said six bullets had been fired, all in a downward trajectory.

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Following the shooting, the Dodge started rolling backwards, slowly across the parking lot, eventually hitting an unoccupied Honda Civic.

The subject was removed from the Dodge, with a Police Service Dog biting his lower leg. The dog’s bites required sutures.

The two bullets that hit the subject struck his hip with the other passing through an arm and the driver’s side door, stopping in the condenser in front of the radiator of the Honda Civic.

The report noted that the subject was convicted, with his actions being the cause of why police fired shots at him.

“Overall, this was a dynamic and dangerous situation, created by the actions of the subject fleeing on foot and then using the car he stole as a weapon,” the report said in its summary.

“The officer acted in a justified and necessary manner to protect himself and others.”