Police watchdog clears Vancouver officers in fatal shooting in Downtown Eastside

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia's police watchdog has cleared Vancouver officers in the fatal shooting of a man in the Downtown Eastside earlier this year.

A report released by the Independent Investigations Office Tuesday said the officers' use of force in the shooting on Jan. 5 was "justified, necessary and proportionate."

"Simply put, they had no choice," said Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office, in the report.

Officers responded to an early morning call from the Salvation Army, where a man who appeared to be drunk was banging on windows and had reportedly been seen carrying a sword, the report said, noting interviews from civilian witnesses and paramedics.

"He was then observed inside the building, naked, carrying a large sword, and was seen smashing the sword against another resident's room door," the report said.

The officers feared the man, who was not named by the oversight agency, would either stab them or one of the bystanders across the street, it said.

The report said the officers were not carrying a stun gun and fired a total of five shots from their firearms from about three metres away.

"The entire confrontation, from the time the subject officers exited their police vehicle to the shooting, took no more than five to six seconds," it said.

The report said the man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

MacDonald said in the report that the officers' "clear and immediate duty" at that time was to stop the threat.

"It would have been entirely inappropriate for the officers to attempt to flee, leaving a number of bystanders in great danger," he said.

Any other use of force would "almost certainly have been ineffective against the charging, sword-wielding" suspect, he said.

"I do not consider that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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