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IIO investigating police-involved shooting in Duncan

Witness video of the incident shows a police officer aiming a gun at an individual in a grey hoodie, the sound of a shot being fired, and the individual falling to the ground

DUNCAN — For the second time in seven weeks, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are being investigated by the province’s civilian police watchdog agency for a police-involved shooting. 

Around 6:30 a.m. Friday, an officer was checking the equipment on his police cruiser in the detachment’s parking lot on Canada Avenue when a man driving a black SUV rammed the police vehicle from behind, sending it spinning backwards into a ditch. The officer was injured, the Independent Investigations Office said in a news release. 

The incident, which is captured on a witness video, shows the suspect getting out of the driver’s seat. He appears to get something out of the back seat of his car. At the same time, a second officer comes up behind the suspect, who turns towards the officer, who is pointing a gun at the man. The suspect was shot and injured. 

Both the injured officer and the suspect were taken to hospital with what are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries, police said. 

The airbag on the suspect’s car was deployed. 

Insp. Chris Bear, officer in charge of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, said police don’t yet know what the man’s intentions were, but that’s something the investigation will look to determine. 

“This is a very disturbing incident for our members and employees,” said Bear, adding additional supports and resources have been brought into the detachment, and “core policing operations” for the community won’t be affected. 

Canada Avenue between the Trans-Canada Highway and Beverley Street was closed during the investigation. The detachment and the parking lot remained behind yellow crime tape throughout the day while police officers and members of the IIO were at the scene taking notes. 

Walk-in, front-counter service at the detachment was closed but other services continued. 

Several Duncan residents said they didn’t know what to make of the latest shooting. 

“There seem to be so many incidents in B.C. and throughout Canada,” said Mercedes Benoit, sitting in a local coffee shop. “I don’t know if people are just getting more and more brazen or desperate. There are so many with mental-health issues. Everything seems so extreme, no matter what you’re looking at these days. And some of the officers seem so young these days. You don’t even know if they’ve had life experience.” 

Benoit, 70, said she remembers a time when police used to handle incidents with less drama. 

“And I don’t know whether it’s just a change in culture or what. It seems like they don’t actually know how to approach people,” she said. 

Renn Lunday said she had told numerous people Friday that she doesn’t want to come downtown as much as before. 

“There’s so much crime has been happening in Duncan lately,” she said. “And it has so much potential to be a little quaint downtown.” 

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. investigates incidents where someone is seriously injured or killed while interacting with police, to determine if an officer committed an offence. 

On March 28, a man was shot in the head twice when he was driving a track loader skid-steer along residential streets in Duncan and refused to stop for police. 

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An IIO representative and RCMP officer at the scene of the shooting at the North Cowichan-Duncan RCMP detachment on Friday, May 12, 2023. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST