RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)

RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

The province’s police watchdog has ruled that Mounties who fatally shot a man in distress while responding to a report of a suicidal man in Lytton are not at fault.

In a report released Tuesday (Oct. 20), the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. found that as the person who was shot was holding a gun and that RCMP were reasonable in using lethal force.

On Jan. 13 police responded to a report of a suicidal man and were met with a single gunshot fired over their head from the home.

According to the IIO, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) was then sent in, and one of those officers killed the man as he came out of the home with a shotgun in his hands.

The IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in its investigation and reviewed recordings of 911 calls, police radio transmissions and records and training records and policies.

The civillian witnesses said that the man was “smoking marijuana heavily, and that both his health and his behaviour were deteriorating noticeably.”

The man was in the home with two witnesses, who told police that he had asked them to call 911 at about 7 a.m.

One of the witnesses told the IIO that she was not comfortable around the man in distress because of concerns over his mental health, as well as the shotgun he owned and comments he had made about the police.

The other witness told the IIO that the two witnesses locked themselves in the basement around 7:45 a.m. that day and called 911, telling the dispatcher the man had “kinda lost his mind and he’s got a gun… I wanna (sic) cop here.” The woman went on to tell the dispatcher that she heard the man “playing with the gun in the bedroom.”

When the dispatcher asked if the distressed man was a danger to others, the witness said “he’s never hurt a soul… he’s just losing it up there and I’m scared right now.”

Two police officers arrived at the house at 8:12 a.m. IIO said that the distressed man shouted at them from an upstairs bedroom and then fired a shotgun above and to the side of their heads. The officer called for ERT, telling dispatch the man had been heard shouting that he would only come out “when there’s one hundred cops” here.

Around 10:25 a.m., the two witnesses left the house. Shortly after their departure, the distressed man had called 911 and stated he would be leaving the home in about four hours and made comments about a police shooting.

Police crisis negotiators spoke to the distressed man and confirmed his earlier statements.

The man in distress walked out of the house at 2:05 p.m. and an officer saw him grab a shotgun in what he called a “position where he could quickly take aim and shoot.”

The same officer officer shot what ended up being a defective round, but another officer shot and killed the man.

Paramedics attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful. The gun the man had was found to have been loaded and the safety was off.

He was found to have 0.011 milligrams per litre of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) in his system. The legal limit for driving in B.C. is 2 nannograms per millilitre, which is 0.002 mg/L.

ALSO READ: IIO probes shooting after officer pepper-sprayed, assaulted outside Abbotsford Cabela’s

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance abuse.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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