The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating a police-involved shooting in North Cowichan that left one man with serious injuries, according to RCMP.
On Tuesday, around 9:15 p.m., North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP received a report of a man, who appeared impaired, driving a track loader skid-steer down a residential street.
Once on scene, Mounties attempted to stop the driver, which resulted in collisions between the skid-steer and police cruisers, BC RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Alex Bérubé said in a news release.
“During the interaction that followed, one officer discharged their weapon, striking the driver,” Bérubé said Wednesday, noting paramedics then transported the man to hospital with serious injuries. The IIO says the injuries are life-threatening.
Several videos posted to Facebook around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday show the incident unfolding, with the skid-steer driver being chased by RCMP cruisers. Witnesses say police followed the skid steer on Parkside Place to Somenos Road before police shot the driver in Evans Park.
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Tom Evans lives in the area and tells CHEK News he heard multiple gunshots.
“He shot him, three times. Bang, bang,” Evans told CHEK News. “I’ve lived here all my life…and I felt nervous and wondered what was going on.”
Another witness, Karen Pynn, says she heard five shots, while Corina Sylvester actually saw the skid-steer speed past.
“I saw the Bobcat driving along this area, and then the sirens were really loud, so I came inside for a bit. It was obvious that they were chasing the person driving the Bobcat,” Sylvester told CHEK News.
“I was more nervous that they would run into either somebody or a car because, obviously, the damage on the police car is a big damage. To see it run into an oncoming car, that was nerve-wracking.”
Family has identified the driver as 31-year-old Davin Cochrane. He was reportedly in a car accident earlier Tuesday and was due for surgery at Cowichan District Hospital, but somehow managed to leave and acquire the skid-steer, Black Press reports.
Sarah Annie Brown posted to a Duncan-based Facebook group around 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, saying Cochrane is her fiancé.
“This was my fiancé and our newborn daughter’s dad…he was shot at twice in the head and it didn’t need to go that way…” wrote Brown. “If anyone has videos of the incident in Duncan involving a stolen machine can you please send me them in a message.”
The IIO is responsible for investigating incidents of death or serious harm that may have resulted from the actions or inactions of a police officer, whether on or off duty, states a post on its website.
“The whole idea here is to determine whether or not the actions of police were justified,” added Ron MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO.
“We’ll look at all aspects of how the interaction between police and the individual went…but at the end of the day, really, the question comes down to, did this individual pose a risk of grievous bodily harm or death to any individual, such that it would have justified the shot, or shots, being taken.”
RCMP says police will release no further information about the incident.
This is a developing story.
(This photo captured by CHEK News on Wednesday morning shows an RCMP cruiser damaged following a Tuesday night police incident in Duncan.)
(Photos captured by CHEK News on Wednesday show IIO investigating the skid-steer.)