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Watchdog clears Richmond RCMP officers who shot knife-wielding man

Yellow tape surrounds the scene of a police-involved shooting in Richmond, B.C. Global News

British Columbia’s independent police watchdog has cleared Richmond RCMP officers of any wrongdoing in a shooting that left a man seriously injured.

The incident took place on Oct. 5, in the 7300-block of Turnill Street, when three officers responded to reports of a man waving a knife in the street.

The man allegedly charged at police almost immediately, prompting two officers to fire seven shots at him.

Read more: Watchdog investigates police-involved shooting in Richmond, B.C.

In a report released Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office said it reviewed video evidence that corroborated the accounts from witnesses and police on scene.

The IIO found the first officer fired three shots when the man closed within about 10 feet of him, but the shots did “not immediately seem to take effect.” That was when the officer turned to run, and the man “(slashed) at his back with the knife, almost making contact.”

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The officer fired two additional shots while turning and half-running from the man, the report found.

According to the report, the man fell to the ground, but rose to his knees and reached again for the knife. Then the second officer fired two rounds. One struck the man.

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The man was treated in hospital for two bullet wounds to his chest, one in his abdomen and one in his left thigh. Subsequent investigation revealed the knife to be a serrated bread knife with a 20 centimetre blade.

“While in every challenging interaction with a member of the public, police should consider attempts at de-escalation, in this case, the  officers had to consider their protection first, then move to de-escalation efforts,” wrote IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald.

Read more: ‘We are stuck’: B.C.’s civilian-led police watchdog reports staffing problems

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“Given (the man’s) virtually immediate response to police presence was to charge (the first officer) with every indication of lethal intent, (neither) police officer had any chance at de-escalation.”

The report found that under the circumstances officers were justified in using potentially lethal force. There were no reasonable grounds to believe they may have committed an offence.

The IIO’s mandate is to investigate any incident where police actions or inactions may have caused serious injury death to a civilian person.

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