A Mountie in Campbell River has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the death of a man who was shot three times by police after he allegedly robbed a sporting goods store.
The fatal incident happened on April 2, 2022, when the Campbell River RCMP responded to a 911 call from the store, where the man was said to have stolen knives and a realistic-looking pellet pistol and made a death threat to a store employee, according to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC.
The call was made around 11:30 a.m., and CHEK News learned the business robbed was River Sportsman on the Island Highway.
“The caller said the male was robbing the store, stealing knives and a pellet gun, and told the manager, ‘You are going to die,'” the IIO says in a decision Thursday.
The investigations office investigates any incident in B.C. in which a person dies or suffers serious harm and there appears to be a connection to the actions or inactions of police.
It says RCMP officers located the man a short while later in the Riverside Village (formerly the Heritage River Inn) parking lot along Park Road.
That’s where the man pointed the stolen pistol at a Mountie from close range, resulting in shots being fired “by the officer and the male sustained a fatal gunshot wound.” The IIO says the man pointed the gun at police, and the interactions were captured on motel security and police dash cam.
Following the incident, residents who lived in the area told CHEK News they felt disturbed. “…it’s upsetting because we have small children here,” said Caitlyn Williams, who lived on Park Road at the time.
Wound not found at first
Officers eventually moved in on the man, took the pellet gun and checked for any wounds or blood, finding none. Paramedics also assessed the man and, like officers, did not find any bullet wounds, so the man was cleared for police custody.
But when an officer went to formally arrest the man, he was found unresponsive. Paramedics transported the man to hospital, where he was declared deceased, and it was discovered he had been wounded by a bullet that passed through the waistband of his pants, which concealed the wound and blood.
The IIO says officers “cannot be faulted for not locating the wound, given that paramedics also failed to find it. There is no credible evidence that officers in any way mistreated (the man) once he had been apprehended.”
It says the officer who shot the man was acting in lawful execution of his duty, and when the man ran at him “pointing what would have appeared exactly like a full-power firearm,” he was entitled to respond as if it was a lethal threat.
Therefore, no charges will be considered.
“In these circumstances, (the officer) was justified in deploying lethal force against (the man), and in fact he exercised considerable restraint,” the IIO says.
“At the time of the first shot, (the man) was within a very short distance. (The officer) then pursued on foot without firing his weapon, until (the man) turned back and again pointed his pistol.
“At the time of (the officer’s) third shot, (the man) was on the ground, but was still pointing his gun at police, and it was reasonable for (the officer) to judge that he still posed a credible risk of grievous bodily harm or death.”
The full report is here.