Mountie found justified in firing on armed man
A Kelowna RCMP officer was justified in shooting an illegal camper in the summer of 2017, B.C.’s police watchdog has ruled.
On Aug. 3, 2017, a Mountie and a City of Kelowna employee responded to a complaint about an unauthorized camp.
On arrival, they encountered a man who approached them carrying an axe handle.
During the encounter, the officer shot the man.
The RCMP then notified the Independent Investigations Office of B.C., the agency that investigates all officer-related incidents resulting in serious harm or death.
The issue in this case was whether the officer used excessive force by shooting the camper, Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, wrote in a report released Thursday.
The victim told the IIO he did not have a residence and an acquaintance had showed him the camp.
He said he had lived there for about six months without issue.
The city worker said the man was yelling and moving toward them, carrying the axe handle.
As he was approaching, the man said, “You’re going to have to shoot me. I’m not leaving here.”
When the man refused to drop the weapon, the officer and the city worker backed away, retreating toward a wire fence.
“Look, I don’t want to have to shoot you, but you do have to lay your weapon down,” the officer said. “We have to make this scene safe for both (the City of Kelowna worker) and myself.” She then shot him. The city worker took two photos of the man as he was approaching.
An analysis of the photos estimated the man was 5.5 metres away from the officer when he was shot.
The IIO found it was reasonable for the officer to conclude the man could easily have caused her imminent grievous bodily harm.
“The five-metre distance could be closed by him very quickly,” MacDonald said. “It was therefore reasonable for the officer to act in defence of herself and (the city worker) by shooting (the man).”
The fact the man failed to comply with any direction from the officer made the perceived threat worse, he added.
“While she attempted to retreat to safety, she found herself blocked by the fence.”
The matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.
The man, who was taken to the hospital with a wound that was serious but not life threatening, has fully recovered, MacDonald noted.