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Police cleared of wrongdoing in shooting death at Campbell River marina

Police are seen at the Discovery Harbour Authority dock in Campbell River, B.C., on June 13, 2022. (CTV News) Police are seen at the Discovery Harbour Authority dock in Campbell River, B.C., on June 13, 2022. (CTV News)
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British Columbia's police watchdog says a man who was shot multiple times by officers with the emergency response team in Campbell River last year was already dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound by the time police opened fire.

The ERT was called to the Discovery Harbour marina in the early morning hours of June 13, 2022, after Campbell River RCMP officers were told the man had shot and killed someone on another boat and had taken a hostage on his own vessel.

Officers found the body of one person with apparent gunshot wounds on a boat in the marina and saw there were lights on inside a boat belonging to the suspect.

At around 2 a.m., a man exited the suspect boat and met police on the dock, telling them be had been held at gunpoint "for hours," and the suspect was now alone on the boat, according to a report from the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. released Monday.

Mounties took up containment positions around the boat until ERT officers arrived to relieve them.

Some ERT members waited behind a wooden dock pilings approximately 15 metres from the boat while a crisis negotiator spoke with the suspect via telephone.

The rear deck of the vessel was obscured by a black tarp, preventing officers from clearly seeing inside, even as daybreak arrived, the IIO said.

Shortly before 5 a.m., police learned the suspect had texted a friend to say he had a loaded gun and he was "not going to come off that boat alive" and had "every intention of making police do the deed," according to the police oversight agency.

The rear deck of the boat was obscured by a black tarp, preventing officers from clearly seeing the suspect inside, according to the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO)

Just after 5:30 a.m., the negotiator again spoke to the man, who said he had three guns and planned to shoot police. An officer could see the man had a phone in one hand and a rifle in the other, the IIO said.

ERT officers then saw the barrel of the gun appear from behind the tarp, pointing towards them before it was withdrawn again. A single gunshot was heard from inside the boat, prompting police to open fire at the vessel with a total of 31 rounds.

An autopsy report determined the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound before he was struck by nine police bullets.

Evidence obtained from police and civilian witnesses, as well as recordings of communications between officers and the man's autopsy report, indicate the responding officers acted lawfully and out of a reasonable belief they were at risk of death or grievous bodily harm, the IIO concluded.

The IIO is an independent police oversight agency that investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death in B.C., whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.

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