West Shore RCMP officers did a good job in dealing with a man threatening to commit suicide last April, subduing him with a conducted-energy weapon and a police dog, says a report by the chief civilian director for the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
The man was bitten on the leg, producing a wound that needed 82 staples to close. The officers were faced with a high-risk situation and were acting for the man’s own protection, Ronald MacDonald wrote in his decision.
“Despite that, they exercised appropriate restraint, trying over an extended period to take [the man] into custody without harming him.”
It started April 22, 2019, when the man’s mother called to tell police he was suicidal and planning to jump from a bridge. The next call came from the man himself, saying he was going to inject himself with gasoline.
Police located the man by following cellphone pings to an area of grass and shrubs in View Royal, off the Island Highway. He was holding a backpack with one hand inside it and telling the officers to back up.
During the ensuing conversation, the man said officers were going to have to “shoot or tase” him. One officer reported that the man asked “which twitchy member was going to shoot him.”
He continued to hold his hand in the backpack.
In response to one officer’s efforts to calm the situation, he said he had already tried to commit suicide five times.
Following that, he walked toward the Gorge Waterway and threatened to jump in.
Ultimately, he told officers he was “gonna make one of you do something.”
He then walked toward an officer with “purposeful strides” and motioned as if he was going to take his hand out of the backpack, which is when the conducted-energy weapon was used and the dog was released.
“He deliberately presented a credible threat by his use of the backpack with his hand inserted, pretending at any moment he would draw and use some sort of weapon,” MacDonald said. The gasoline-filled syringe he claimed to have was also a potential threat, he said.
“Through his own quite deliberate actions, therefore, [the man] placed himself at the risk of the use by police of lethal force.”
Much of what happened was audible on a dash-camera system in one of the police vehicles.
MacDonald said the officers involved did not commit any offence. The Independent Investigations Office is a civilian-oversight agency that looks into police-related incidents resulting in serious harm or death.