Watchdog report: B.C. police justified in fatal shooting of armed man

The report from the Independent Investigations Office of BC has statements from seven civilian witnesses and 11 police officers, plus 911 calls and police radio transmissions. Mario Beauregard / The Canadian Press Images

An investigation into a B.C. Interior standoff where lethal force was authorized and a man was killed has concluded that police acted accordingly.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. said it looked into the incident, an armed standoff on the afternoon of Jan. 13 in Lytton, with a police officer fatally shooting a man who walked out of his home with a loaded shotgun.

The report featured statements from seven civilian witnesses and 11 police officers, plus audio recordings of 911 calls and police radio transmissions.

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According to the investigation, the man was suicidal and was asking to be shot by police, with the report printing a morning call he made to 911.

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“At six minutes after two o’clock, I am walking out the front door. I want six shots in my body please,” the report said of the man’s 911 call. “I am going to walk toward the armed officers with my shotgun so I have to get really close to do anything.

“So I prefer some really nice precision shooting here today. Can you pass that on please? Thank you.”

The IIO said the incident started began at 7 a.m., when two witnesses in the home called 911 and said they were concerned about the man, stating he had been smoking marijuana heavily and that “something was wrong with his mental stability.”

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At 7:45 a.m., the two witnesses went downstairs and locked themselves in the basement and called 911, stating he’s “kinda lost his mind and he’s got a gun . . . I wanna cop here.”

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Asked if he was a danger to others, the first witness said “he’s never hurt a soul . . . he’s just losing it up there and I’m scared right now.”

The report said at 8:12 a.m., two police officers arrived, with the man shouting at them from an upstairs window, then firing a shot in their direction but over their heads and to the side.

The two police officers took cover, then called for the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team (ERT)

At 8:16 a.m., the first officer advised dispatch that the second officer heard the man shouting he’d only come out “when there’s 100 cops.”

Around 40 minutes later, the first witness, still on the phone with 911, went upstairs to check on the man, who said “it’s a standoff … you need to go, baby.”

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At 10:25 a.m., the second witness left the home, with the first leaving five minutes later. The report said shortly after their departure, the man made that chilling statement to 911 about wanting to get shot six times.

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The report said ERT members moved from “active shooter” plans to de-escalation, with hopes of taking the man into custody without force.

However, the report said, “officers were told that if (the man) came out with a shotgun, unless clearly surrendering, the use of lethal force was authorized.”

The IIO said police crisis negotiators talked to the man, who confirmed his threat to come out at 2:06 p.m., and walk towards police with a shotgun, as well as his request for “six shots in my body.”

“At a few seconds before 2:05 p.m., (the man) walked out through the front door,” said the report. “(A third police witness) saw him turn and grab something, and realized it was the shotgun.”

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The third police witness said he saw the man close the door and then bring the shotgun up in both hands.

“It was in an athletic, ready position where he could quickly take aim and shoot,” said the third police witness.

“It was away from his body and he took a couple of steps and started moving away from the house where the other members were up the road, and exactly what he said he was going to do.

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“I feared for their lives … I squeezed the trigger. And the gun went ‘click.’”

That police officer’s bullet misfired. But another officer’s shot went off, striking the man.

The IIO said that police officer did not provide any evidence.

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Following the shooting, police and paramedics moved in, but the man was declared dead at 2:21 p.m.

The report said the man’s 12-gauge shotgun was loaded, with a live shell in the chamber and two more in the magazine, and that the safety was in the off position.

In summing up police actions, the IIO said ERT members “were clearly acting in lawful execution of their duty, as they were dealing with a situation involving an armed, barricaded individual who had already fired a shot in the direction of officers, and potential hostages.”

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It went on to say the authorization of lethal force was justified “by the very explicit threats” the man had made, adding he “remained adamant that he wanted to force a police officer to shoot him by threatening the officers around the house with his firearm.”

The IIO said both officers who fired shots, including the misfire, “reached the same decision at almost exactly the same moment, and both were legally justified in their actions,” adding the matter won’t be forwarded to prosecutors for consideration of charges.

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On Tuesday afternoon, the IIO held a press conference regarding its investigation. The chief civilian director, Ronald J. MacDonald, said police did not rush in trying to de-escalate the incident, and that used trained negotiators.

“It’s very clear from the evidence that we have in this case, (the man) had intent and made a conscious and determined decision to be shot by police.”

The IIO director also said attempts to change his mind were unsuccessful, adding “the evidence demonstrates a very dedicated man who was very dedicated to achieve this outcome.”

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