The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) will not be recommending charges against Quesnel police officers that were involved in a fatal shooting on August 31, 2021.
The IIO investigation revealed that Quesnel RCMP members approached a parked vehicle (Jeep Cherokee) in a parking lot in the 400 block of Carson Avenue at around 3:20 that morning.
It says the engine was running but the affected person was sleeping.
Police say they noticed a shotgun beside him on the passenger side floor.
Officers also told the IIO that they also recognized the man as a local drug trafficker known to carry weapons and that he had a significant criminal record involving firearms and drug offenses and was currently subject to a weapons prohibition and an outstanding arrest warrant.
All four officers on the scene then drew their pistols and stepped back behind police vehicles.
The report says two subject officers then issued verbal commands for the man to come out of his vehicle and to show his hands.
Moments later, at around 3:26 a.m., an officer on the police Dispatch channel is heard saying “he’s reaching.”
A shot was fired and that was followed by police gunshots.
The man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
Forensic evidence revealed that the man’s shotgun was discharged once, upwards through the sunroof of his Jeep, that one officer fired his weapon twice, and that another officer fired between 26 and 29 shots.
The autopsy report showed that the affected person died from a total of 11 bullet wounds.
The Independent Investigations Office determined the following:
“The involved officers were acting in lawful execution of their duty, initially investigating a suspicious vehicle that had earlier fled from police, and then attempting to arrest AP (affected person) pursuant to warrants once they recognized him as the vehicle’s occupant. When they observed the presence of a shotgun in the cab, that and AP’s criminal history and background gave them cause for caution. Their plan to contain AP, call him out and arrest him away from the shotgun was a reasonable one.”
The IIO added that the evidence supported the conclusion that when AP awoke, his reaction-despite the obvious presence of police-was to reach for the shotgun.
It says he appeared to be holding the gun pointing upwards in his lap and worked the pump action to chamber a round.
“It is not clear whether he then fired the gun deliberately or if it discharged accidentally, perhaps because his finger was on the trigger when he pumped it. However, the evidence of the fired shell in the chamber and the blown-out sunroof, as well as accounts from officers they heard an initial shot from the direction of the Jeep, show the weapon was likely fired moments before the Subject Officers discharged their carbines.”
The IIO says the shot from the vehicle, in the circumstances, gave reasonable grounds for the Subject Officers to believe that it was necessary for them to use lethal force in order to protect themselves and their colleagues from an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm.
It says despite the fact that AP’s shotgun was not aimed in the direction of the officers, in the darkness and the rain, it was reasonable for them to think that AP was shooting at them.
“When a police officer has the reasonable belief that a person has fired a gun at them, even if he misses, it is entirely reasonable to take action to prevent that person from taking another shot that may be on target.”
– with files from George Henderson, My Cariboo Now staff