A report from B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) says police were justified in shooting a man who was reported to be acting erratically on one of Vancouver's busiest bridges earlier this year.
IIO investigators were called to the Granville Street Bridge on Feb. 9 after a man was fatally shot by a Vancouver Police Department officer. The man had been advancing toward officers, who said he was holding a knife.
The man, who has not been identified, had been reported to police by another person walking on the bridge.
They called 911 around 6:45 p.m. PT after they witnessed the man looking over the edge of the bridge. The caller told 911 they were concerned the man could harm himself.
According to the IIO report, the first police on the scene were plainclothes officers. They were later joined by two other officers as they tried to communicate with the man from a distance.
The report chronicles testimony from 10 civilian witness statements and three witness police officers and examines whether or not the victim advanced toward officers in a threatening manner with a knife in one hand and a screwdriver in the other.
The witness statements referenced in the report claim the man's hands were empty as officers tried to speak with him, whereas the police statements claim the opposite. It was dark at the time.
Officers, who ended up closer to the man than witnesses, said he drew out a knife with his right hand and another object with his left.
A knife police say was recovered from the Granville Street Bridge after a man was fatally shot by police in February. (IIO B.C.)
A screwdriver police say was recovered from the Granville Street Bridge after the fatal shooting. (IIO B.C.)
IIO also considered grainy footage of the interaction recorded by a transit bus stopped nearby.
"In two frames of the video there is a bright spot consistent with a reflection of headlights from something shiny in his right hand," reads the report.
"On balance, it has to be concluded that [the affected person] was holding a double-edged knife and a screwdriver when he came towards the officers."
The report contains images of a black, double-edged knife with a pink handle and a yellow-handled square-headed screwdriver that were recovered at the scene.
One officer twice fired a controlled energy weapon (CEW), also known as a Taser, at the man during the confrontation, before lethal rounds were used. Evidence showed that the energy weapon's barbs were lodged in the man's loose clothing and did not make contact with his skin.
"When the CEW did not stop [the affected person], who was by now only a very few steps from the two officers, it was justifiable for [the subject officer] to respond to the threat he posed, of grievous bodily harm or death to an officer, by the use of lethal force," reads the report.
Martin Allen, general counsel with the IIO wrote that there are no "reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence" during the incident.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police-involved shooting investigations increase
The IIO is mandated to conduct investigations into police-related incidents resulting in death or serious harm to determine whether any officer may have committed an offence.
In the latest annual report from IIO, which covers April 2022 to the end of March 2023, the agency said it investigated 26 police-involved shootings, a vast increase compared to other years.
"This is in stark contrast to the seven the IIO examines per year on average and reflects a 271 per cent increase," said the report. "The reasons for this increase are unknown and warrant further research in academia."
Also in the 2022-23 fiscal year, IIO said incident notification to the agency increased 19 per cent compared to the previous year, from 323 to 385.