VPD defend shooting of truck theft suspect
Vancouver police are defending their actions that led to the shooting of a robbery suspect on Sunday, as he allegedly attempted to flee the scene in a stolen truck.
Police spotted a Ford F350 pick-up truck -- which had been reported stolen in Coquitlam a week ago -- parked at Union Street and Jackson Avenue, near the east end of the Georgia Viaduct, around 5 p.m.
Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Const. Jana McGuinness on Monday confirmed earlier reports that an unmarked police car and other vehicles had blocked the suspect's escape route after he attempted to leave in the vehicle, but included additional information on what led up to the 38-year-old man being shot.
One of the officers who confronted the man, a six-year veteran of the VPD, became stuck between the accelerating truck and other vehicles, and fired a single shot which hit the driver. McGuinness said he shot the suspect because he felt lives were endangered.
McGuinness said the driver was taken to hospital and is being treated for non-life threatening injuries. He is facing possible charges of assaulting a peace officer, dangerous driving, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and breach of an undertaking.
The truck had been previously been involved in an incident on March 29 on East Hastings Street in which a sex trade worker was approached by a man driving the truck, said McGuinness.
The woman offered to sell him drugs, which he took without paying. As he drove off, the woman's jacket was caught in the passenger door and she was dragged about 100 meters. The driver stopped the truck, opened the door and she fell to the ground.
BC Ambulance alerted police to the hit-and-run and treated the woman for scrapes and bruises. The woman had been able to get the truck's licence plate number.
The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner has been notified of the incident, said McGuinness.
Witness Nicholas Kandi said he spoke to the man minutes prior to the shooting.
"The guy was visiting the house next door and said he left his keys in the truck," he said.
Minutes later, Kandi was looking out of a window and saw the man trying to flee the scene. He did not hear a shot, but said he saw officers "yank" the man out of the pick-up.
"The pick-up truck was surrounded by police cars," Kandi said. "The tires were smoking like crazy."
And a photographer who says he was roughed up by police is angry.
Province Newspaper photographer Jason Payne was trying to take pictures of Sunday's shooting when an officer objected, according to Kandi, who captured the whole thing on his cell phone.
"The police officer interrupted him, right in the middle of when he was taking his pictures and wanted to take his camera away," he said.
The VPD constable told Payne his camera was "evidence" and ordered him to hand it over. Payne says being in an arm hold and with a threat of arrest, he complied.
"I put the camera on the ground [and] put my foot on it, and said 'You're not getting my camera.' They pretty much persisted to the point of being arrested," said Payne.
The Province's editor-in-chief, Wayne Moriarty, says although Payne's camera was returned within an hour with images intact, the police action was over the top.
"The cops don't like the fact that when they are out in the street... doing their jobs, they're being scrutinized by more media than ever," he said.