The following contains details of an attempted suicide that some readers may find distressing.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has determined a Victoria Police officer’s actions were justified when she shot a man in Royal Jubilee Hospital in 2021.
On March 15, 2021 around 5 a.m., two officers who were at the hospital on an unrelated matter, were informed by a security guard there was a man in the emergency department with a knife.
The man, who had been admitted to the hospital earlier that day after he reported he had ingested plutonium, had been overheard by another witness saying “I want to kill someone” with a vacant look on his face.
The security guard gave the man commands to drop the weapon but he says the man did not respond.
One officer responded and found the man with the knife and had out a Taser, and radioed the other officer to come assist.
The second officer, who is the subject of the IIO investigation, drew her firearm while the other officer gave commands for the man to drop the knife “six or seven times.”
The man advanced towards the officer holding the Taser, and she deployed it. This did not stop the man from advancing.
The officer subject of the investigation then shot once at the man’s abdomen.
He then fell to the ground, but even then the first officer reports needing to “rip” the knife out of his hands because he was holding it so tightly. He was handcuffed and received immediate medical attention at the hospital. He underwent surgery to repair the damage from the bullet.
When IIO investigators interviewed the man, he told them he wanted to die and that this was his suicide attempt. A third civilian witness reported overhearing the man say “I wanted assisted suicide.”
The IIO report, written by Ronald MacDonald, the chief civilian director, says officers are permitted to use force if necessary in their duties.
“In this case, [the man who was shot] was holding a knife and was moving towards the officers. After attempts to de-escalate, it was necessary and appropriate for [the officer under investigation] to use force in an effort to get [the man] to drop the knife,” the report says. “It was clear on the CCTV, and from the civilian witnesses who tried to get him to drop the knife earlier, that [the man] was not complying.”
MacDonald writes that it would not have been reasonable for the officers to try and lay hands on him to try and get him to drop the knife, so the use of both the Taser and after that had failed, the gun was “necessary and reasonable” to get the man to comply.
If you or someone you know is struggling, here’s where to get help:
- Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (phone available 24/7/365) | 45645 (text available 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. PT).
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (phone), live chat counselling on the website.
- Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre.