Police officer the subject of IIO murder probe
CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, July 18, 2013 9:11PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 18, 2013 9:42PM PDT
B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office is probing whether a police officer who fatally shot a man during a tense armed standoff last year committed murder.
The hours-long standoff ended in the parking lot of the Starlight Casino in New Westminster on Nov. 8, shortly after Mehrad Bayrami stepped toward police with his handgun pointed in the air.
A flash device was detonated, and Bayrami was shot with plastic Arwen bullets and at least one round from an assault rifle.
The gunman fell to the ground and died 10 days later in hospital.
But court documents obtained exclusively by CTV News reveal there are questions being raised about the officer’s decision to use deadly force.
According to the documents, which outline the evidence collected by the IIO, the tactical plan communicated to Emergency Response Team members at the scene was to allow Bayrami a 20-metre radius to move around.
If he crossed the boundaries, officers were authorized to use force, including plastic bullets, a beanbag gun and a noise or flash device.
The officer who fired an assault rifle, whose name is redacted in the documents, was watching from a sniper position, and authorized to shoot if a potentially-deadly threat to police arose.
Bayrami, who had appeared distraught and held the gun to his own head during the standoff, took two steps toward police before he was shot.
Officers have told IIO investigators the plastic and live rounds that hit Bayrami were fired in quick succession, as close as milliseconds apart. Use of force expert Orville Nickel told CTV News there may have been a breakdown in communications.
“It seems as though they were trying to go with a non-lethal method. Somehow the lethal got mixed up with the non-lethal and they were executed simultaneously,” Nickel said.
Earlier in the day, Bayrami had allegedly taken a woman hostage at the casino after a domestic dispute. Witnesses reported seeing a woman dragged screaming into the bushes before the standoff began.
When police arrived, he told them he wanted to die and “leave in a body bag,” according to the documents.
The assault rifle round struck Bayrami on his right side and he sustained several bruises from the Arwen bullets. He succumbed to his injuries on Nov. 18.
It’s up to Crown counsel to determine whether to proceed with charges based on the IIO’s evidence.
The court documents were made available to CTV News after the courts ordered the station to turn over video to the IIO.
CTV News is the only station to capture the fatal shooting on video.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Lisa Rossington