The BC Prosecution Services (BCPS) says a Nanaimo man of no fixed address who was accused of shooting another man who was looking for items that were allegedly stolen from his shop in March will not be facing charges.
The BCPS announced a stay of proceedings on Wednesday, saying that the Crown does not have enough evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the man committed an offense.
The shooting occurred on March 12 when Nanaimo business owner Clint Smith was shot in the stomach after he and a group of six other men went to a homeless encampment along Terminal Avenue to retrieve items that were allegedly stolen.
The prosecution service says Smith initially told police he was not armed, but further investigation determined that he was carrying a collapsible baton and wearing a “slash-proof vest,” and that at least one other man who was with him was wielding a baseball bat or large piece of wood.
After spotting an item on the road that the group believed was stolen from the Smith’s shop, the group “descended the embankment into the camp in search of other property,” according to the BCPS.
A violent confrontation occurred and Smith was shot in the stomach, which required serious medical treatment, including surgeries.
Roughly two weeks later, on March 26, 37-year-old Craig Truckle was arrested for pointing a firearm in relation to the shooting.
The BC Prosecution Service says Truckle and another camper were “legally entitled to defend themselves” in the encounter, adding that witnesses saw a camper being hit over the head with a baton.
“The only question is whether the force used by the accused was objectively proportionate in the circumstances,” said the BCPS in a release Wednesday.
The prosecution service notes that when it approves criminal charges it must assess each case on a two-part test, including whether or not there is a substantial likelihood of conviction, and if so, whether or not there is public interest that requires prosecution.
“Given all available evidence and applying the legal elements of self-defence to that evidence, the Crown would be unable to disprove self-defence or defence of others beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the BCPS.
“The Crown could not establish that the accused’s response in defending himself and his group from an unprovoked attack was disproportionate or unreasonable in the circumstances,” it continued. “For these reasons the charge assessment standard is no longer met in this case, and a stay of proceedings has been entered to bring the prosecution to an end.”
The BCPS notes that it does not normally release details on its decisions, but it felt it was in the public’s interest to lay out details in this case, “in light of considerable public attention and commentary generated by this incident.”
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Correction: An earlier version of this story stated four men and two women approached the homeless camp. In fact, it was seven men who approached the camp, while four men and two women were occupying the camp.