BC's police watchdog clears RCMP in Burnaby pellet-gun death

B.C.’s police watchdog has cleared RCMP officers of wrongdoing in the death of a man near the Eileen Dailly recreation centre in Burnaby in December.

Officers had been responding to an unrelated complaint in the area on Dec. 20, when they caught sight of someone sitting in the driver seat of a car in a parking lot in the 200 block of Willingdon Avenue at about 4 a.m., according to an RCMP press release at the time.

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According to a report by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) released Tuesday, an officer tapped on the window of the idling car to get the attention of the driver who reportedly squinted at the officer’s flashlight.

The officer retreated and called for backup, however, when he spotted a rifle on the man’s lap, according to the IIO report.

RCMP addressed the man several time using a public address system but got no response; however, movement was seen inside the vehicle as late as 5:39 a.m., according to witnesses.

After getting the man’s cell phone number from his family, the RCMP’s emergency response team (ERT) made 22 attempts to contact him.

The ERT moved in just after 7:20 a.m., setting off a flash bang as a distraction, breaking the side windows and pepper-spraying the man.

Officers found him dead inside the vehicle, according to the IIO report.

An autopsy revealed he had died of a single pellet gunshot wound to the head and there was no other evidence of harm.

IIO director Ronald J. MacDonald concluded there was no indication officers fired their weapons, and the only force used was the flash bang and pepper spray.

“Given the potential risks the officers faced, their actions throughout were understandable and appropriate,” states his report.

MacDonald concluded there was no evidence officers committed any offence during the incident and there were no grounds to consider charges.

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