B.C.’s police watchdog has cleared Prince George RCMP officers of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Gregory Matters last fall.

An Emergency Response Team member shot Matters twice in the chest during a tense arrest on a rural property on Sept. 10, following almost 24 hours of phone negotiations urging the suspect to surrender.

According to an Independent Investigations Office report released Wednesday, the officer only opened fire after a Taser failed to subdue Matters, who was allegedly brandishing a hatchet above his head.

“There was no hesitations in Matters’ advance with the hatchet raised and I was left with no option if I was to prevent Matters from wounding or killing [another officer],” the unnamed ERT member is quoted as saying. “I switched off the safety of my rifle, aimed at Matters’ center of mass, and fired two rounds.”

Police wanted to arrest the suspect in connection with an alleged assault on his brother the previous morning, and for reportedly threatening police.

The deceased’s family has criticized Mounties for being too aggressive with Matters, who previously served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The IIO report noted that Matters eventually did agree to turn himself in, but when the time came he became agitated at the sight of an RCMP helicopter.

Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal noted that the watchdog only investigates potential criminal actions involving serious or fatal uses of police force, and it would be up to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to determine whether procedural errors were made.

“Any issues or concerns relating to the decision to immediately arrest Mr. Matters or relating to the competency or fairness of the underlying investigation that led to his arrest fall outside the jurisdiction of the IIO,” Rosenthal wrote in his report.  

Matters’ case was the first taken up by the IIO after its creation last year.