Eyewitnesses continue to process the shocking moments leading up to a man’s death in Nanaimo Tuesday, as investigators comb the neighbourhood for details of what happened.
A Nanaimo RCMP officer shot a man seen waving a knife, as onlookers watched on.
The police tape’s come down along Nanaimo’s Country Club Drive now a day after the fatal shooting involving police. But for eyewitnesses, the final moments of a man’s life continue to play out before their eyes.
“And we saw the whole thing,” says witness Jamie Benko. “Definitely watching a man die it’s emotional for sure.”
Jamie Benko was renovating a home a few doors down when he heard a commotion on the street at about 10:45 Tuesday morning.
“We heard from inside the police telling someone to drop something and by the time we came out he was coming out of the woods a squad car pulled up, he advanced towards it and the shots went off. It must have been a high shot because he had reached for his chest area and fell back,”says Benko.
Investigators from the Independent Investigations Office were back at the scene of the shooting Wednesday, collecting eyewitness accounts about the moments leading up to the shooting.
“So many people witnessed it and then we heard in the afternoon that he had died and that just really made it very sad for all of us,” says witness Sharon Ditta. ” I think it was totally unnecessary. Yeah. I mean could a taser have worked better I don’t know.
“It was a shock to everybody,” says Benko.
But Nanaimo RCMP officers were facing a man armed with a knife, who David McLellan had just encountered minutes earlier in a nearby Dairy Queen parking lot.
“He was just holding a knife with both hands holding it straight up and he was looking around, looking around like he was looking for someone to do harm to or maybe himself I’m not sure,” recalls McLellan.
A man he describes as in his 30’s, waving a large knife, that worried the Dairy Queen janitor so much he ran inside to call 911.
Minutes later the man was dead.
“He just kind of came walking out of that wooded area towards the cop vehicle, they told him to drop whatever was in his hands and they fired shots and he hit the ground,” says Benko.
Investigators are now looking into whether that deadly force was justified. With blocks full of neighbours who witnessed it ready to share what they saw.