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No charges against Nanaimo police officer involved in fatal shooting

B.C.’s police watchdog has ruled out criminal charges against a Nanaimo RCMP officer who shot and killed a man armed with a knife.
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B.C.’s police watchdog has ruled out criminal charges against a Nanaimo RCMP officer who shot and killed a man armed with a knife.

B.C.’s police watchdog has ruled out criminal charges against a Nanaimo RCMP officer who shot and killed a man armed with a knife.

An investigation by the Independent Investigations Office found that the man, Craig Andrew Ford, ignored several commands to drop the knife before he was shot and killed outside of a Dairy Queen near Norwell Drive at Highway 19A on June 14, 2016, about 10:20 a.m.

Three officers had responded to a report of a man carrying a knife. A female officer, the first on scene, told the man that the police were there to help him and tried to get his name. She said the man walked toward her, coming within four or five feet, forcing her to move to the rear of her police car, according to the IIO’s investigative report.

Another officer, the one who fired the shots, arrived on scene and yelled: “Drop the knife,” at which point the man started walking in his direction.

He radioed to dispatch asking for a Taser to be brought to the scene. None of the officers had one.

A resident of a nearby home reported seeing the man holding the knife at waist level, with the blade pointing out.

The person who called 911 said the man “came at the officers with the knife in his hand” and that he feared he was going to stab one of the officers. The 911 caller also took a cellphone video that showed the man walking toward the officer before he fired two shots.

The knife was still in Ford’s hand as he fell to the ground. An officer kicked it away.

The 49-year-old died in hospital.

A team of five investigators from the IIO were dispatched to the scene to collect evidence. They interviewed 18 witnesses, reviewed cell phone video, recordings of police radio transmissions and analyzed the autopsy report and ballistics report. An autopsy confirmed the man died by two bullets.

The IIO found that the officer “had to act quickly to protect himself, and had little time to weigh his options.” The report found the officer acting in defence of himself and the female officer.

The Independent Investigations Office probes deaths or serious injuries that involve police and assists Crown counsel in determining whether a criminal offence has occurred.

kderosa@timescolonist.com