The Vancouver Police Department took the unusual step Thursday by creating a web page focused solely on the chronology of events that led to one of its constables shooting to death a mentally ill man in 2007 and the subsequent investigations that followed.
Police Chief Jim Chu announced that a page devoted to the shooting of Paul Boyd will group together media releases, reports from investigations and reviews from Crown counsel and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
“These public documents have never been grouped together like this before,” the chief said in a statement at the Cambie street police station. “We hope that it is a helpful resource for those of us who are still grappling with how this tragedy could have happened.”
News of the VPD’s creation of the web page comes four days after amateur video was broadcast on CBC partly showing Const. Lee Chipperfield firing the fatal shot that killed Boyd, near the intersection of Granville Street and 12th Avenue on the evening of Aug. 13, 2007.
The shaky, dimly lit footage shows Boyd crawling slowly on his hands in knees on Granville Street. He crawls in front of an SUV, which obscured the Winnipeg tourist’s filming of the fatal shot, although the blast from Chipperfield’s handgun is clearly heard.
The day after the footage was broadcast, the provincial government appointed the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team to re-open the investigation and examine the new video. Boyd, 39, was shot eight times, although the video doesn’t capture the first burst of bullets or events leading up to his death.
“As you know, every investigation and independent review of this incident, so far, has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to lay a charge,” the chief said. “We understand that provides no consolation whatsoever to the family and we empathize with grief. If the status of this case changes as a result of the current review, I promise the family today that our response will be appropriate and made without delay.”
If the status doesn’t change, the chief added, the VPD will “still see this as a defining moment for our organization—one, though sad, that is an opportunity for us to improve and go forward, committed to the support of our members in their difficult job to protect and serve those suffering from mental illness.”
Boyd, an animator, suffered from bipolar disorder. Police first dealt with him that night when they approached him at a bus stop. Police said Boyd was holding a hammer, which he dropped after police ordered him at gunpoint to drop it.
Police said they attempted to handcuff Boyd but he hit an officer with a bike chain attached to a lock. Another officer attempted to gain control of Boyd with hand strikes and his baton, but to no avail.
Boyd’s refusal to give himself up for arrest eventually led to Chipperfield firing his handgun to stop Boyd, whom he suspected of wearing body armour. He told investigators and testified at inquest that he feared for his life and that Boyd was “practically vertical” when he fired the fatal shot.