An report from the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIOBC) concludes that Chilliwack RCMP officers did nothing wrong the day a man was fatally shot by police.
The nine-page IIOBC report, authored by Chief Civilian Director Ronald J. MacDonald, was released Monday (Nov. 29). The IIOBC examines any circumstances where RCMP involvement leads to serious harm or death.
In this case, police were called out to a Christina Drive residence in Sardis around 6 p.m. on May 22, 2020 and settled into an hours-long standoff with a distraught man.
The victim is unidentified in MacDonald’s report, known only by the initials AP. The IIOBC found that AP had been told he couldn’t buy a gun safe at the Chilliwack Canadian Tire on May 21, and his behaviour in the store was “concerning.”
Police received a similar report soon after from the Abbotsford Canadian Tire and AP was asked to visit the Chilliwack RCMP detachment later that day. He told officers he was stressed and frustrated because he was unemployed, blaming his status on government COVID restrictions.
It was decided that he couldn’t be detained under the Mental Health Act, and he returned home, but AP’s erratic behaviour escalated over the next 24 hours.
Civilian witnesses told IIOBC investigators he was drinking more than usual. He was seen “walking around with guns,” and burning papers in his backyard while “growling” and talking about the end of the world. When AP visited the garage of one witness and described himself as “a soldier now activated,” the witness called the police non-emergency line asking for a wellness check.
At first, the call was deemed low priority, but after receiving followup reports that AP was in his house holding a shotgun, all available officers were sent to the scene.
The area was cordoned off and a police helicopter circled the area for several hours that night.
According to MacDonald’s report, AP fired the first shots at 7:40 p.m., sending two volleys toward police in the front yard. He fired several more through the roof of his home and kept shooting as he moved into the backyard.
At 9:55 p.m. AP was at a basement patio door/window, and when he appeared to be bringing the shotgun into shooting position, a police sniper took a shot that first hit AP’s shotgun and then his chest.
Soon after, he emerged from the house, unclothed, with blood visible on his upper body. He laid down in the driveway and was heard saying “Please don’t shoot me, please, please, I am an American citizen, I am an American citizen.”
But just when the standoff appeared to be over, AP abruptly retreated into the house, with police firing one shot from a ‘blunt impact projectile launcher’ as he went.
“The discharge of a blunt impact projectile was reasonable in the circumstances as an (unsuccessful) attempt to prevent AP from re-entering the home and barricading himself inside again,” MacDonald wrote.
Shortly after midnight, officers finally entered the home and found him dead.
In its conclusion, the IIOBC report found that by the time the police sniper fired the fatal shot, three hours had been spent trying to end the standoff peacefully. Officers were authorized to shoot if AP presented a risk of serious harm and at the moment he was hit by the sniper’s bullet, his shotgun was pointed in the direction of officers in the backyard.
The report determined the sniper was justified taking the shot and also found that officers acted correctly not entering the house sooner after the wounded man went back in.
“Officers could not be expected to charge blindly after him into a house where AP, whose actions were completely unpredictable, was known to be in possession of firearms and ammunition and had previously been firing wildly through walls, windows, ceiling and roof,” MacDonald noted. “The evidence demonstrates that as soon as officers were able to venture inside the building with a relative degree of safety, they immediately provided AP with medical attention and attempted to save his life.”
Find the full report online at iiobc.ca/app/uploads/sites/472/2021/11/May-23-2020-Chilliwack-Death-2020-100.pdf