No charges in fatal Vancouver police shooting, special prosecutor rules — (The Globe and Mail)

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The Globe and Mail

Police escort Paul Boyd from a rally supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq in Vancouver, Sunday, March 30, 2003. The family of a man shot and killed by police say Boyd was a gentle soul who suffered from a mental disorder that could send him into a spiral of delusional paranoia. Police shot the 39-year-old last week after he attacked officers with a heavy chain and sent one to hospital with head injuries. (CHUCK STOODY/CP)

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver police officer who was involved in a fatal shooting that was captured on a cellphone video won’t face charges because he could reasonably argue self-defence, a special prosecutor announced Monday.

Paul Boyd was shot multiple times after police responded to a 911 call about a disturbance in August, 2007. He was bipolar and was not taking his medication at the time.

No charges in fatal Vancouver police shooting, special prosecutor rules – The Globe and Mail

Various investigations and reviews by police and Crown prosecutors had cleared Constable Lee Chipperfield, but the case was placed under renewed scrutiny last year when a cellphone video emerged in the media.

No charges in fatal Vancouver police shooting, special prosecutor rules – The Globe and Mail

Chipperfield had told a coroner’s inquest he believed Boyd was armed with a bicycle chain when he fired the fatal shot. He also said he believed Boyd may have been wearing body armour because it appeared as though he wasn’t affected by the initial shots.

But the shaky video showed Boyd crawling along the ground, no longer holding the chain, in the seconds before the ninth and final shot.

An outside agency was brought in from Alberta to conduct yet another review of the case and a special prosecutor was appointed to review the evidence.

The B.C. Criminal Justice Branch released a seven-page statement Monday explaining special prosecutor Mark Jette’s decision to not charge the officer.

“If Const. Chipperfield was prosecuted for an offence alleging culpable homicide, a reasonable doubt on the issue of self-defence would require an acquittal,” the statement said.

“The evidence made available to the special prosecutor in this case was that Const. Chipperfield personally believed resort to lethal force was necessary to preserve himself and others from death or grievous bodily harm.”

Police were called to a report about an assault at a bus stop, though Monday’s statement notes the call turned out to be inaccurate.

At first, Boyd was co-operative, according to the prosecutor’s statement, dropping a hammer when police officers asked him to. However, when the officers attempted to handcuff Boyd, the situation deteriorated and Boyd swung the bike chain, hitting one of the officers.

During the confrontation, Chipperfield fired nine shots, eight of which struck Boyd.

Midway through the gunfire, the video shows Boyd had dropped the bike chain and another officer pushed it aside, the prosecutor’s statement says. That officer later said he had told Chipperfield to “hold your fire,” though Chipperfield and other officers at the scene said they didn’t hear it.

The prosecutor’s statement said the video does not tell the whole story about what happened that night.

The video starts after six shots had already been fired and doesn’t show the confrontation that prompted the shooting, the statement says. The entire incident lasted less than three minutes.

While Boyd is seen on the video crawling on the ground, he moves behind a car, blocking the camera’s view, before the final shot. An autopsy concluded the angle of the fatal shot indicated Boyd may have been either on his hands and knees or leaning forward while on his feet.

As for Chipperfield’s belief that Boyd was still armed when the fatal shot was fired, the statement notes other civilian witnesses had the same, albeit inaccurate, recollection.

“A number of the civilian witnesses who viewed the incident involving Mr. Boyd also failed to observe a police officer remove the chain and padlock prior to the fatal shot,” said the statement.

“The special prosecutor concluded that Const. Chipperfield’s evidence that he failed to note Mr. Boyd being disarmed may reflect the fact that sometimes people do not see what is there to be seen.”

Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu said in a statement the case was “difficult and sad for everyone involved.”

“As I have said from the beginning of this tragic incident, I would like to once again extend our sincere regrets and condolences to the Boyd family for their loss,” Chu said in the statement.

“No police officer ever comes to work with the intent of taking a life.”

 

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Slain man was bipolar, family says — (The Globe and Mail)

ARMINA LIGAYA

Paul Boyd was a gentle, gifted artist who battled mental illness and was suffering from paranoid delusions on the night he was shot and killed by Vancouver police, his family says.

In a statement issued at a police press briefing yesterday, Mr. Boyd’s family described the 39-year-old as a successful animator who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his early 20s.

“He was friendly, intelligent, gentle, humorous and compassionate … most of the time he was well and few would have guessed that he suffered from any kind of mental disorder,” his family said. “But, periodically he would suffer periods of mania and depression which could produce vivid paranoid delusions that made him fear imagined threats.”

Mr. Boyd managed his condition with constant medical treatment, but was in the midst of one of these episodes the night he was gunned down, his family says.

On Aug. 13, police say they received a 911 call that two men were assaulting another man at about 9:30 p.m. When two officers arrived on Granville Street between 15th and 16th avenues, they found Mr. Boyd lying on a bench next to a bus stop.

The officers could see Mr. Boyd was holding a claw hammer, which they asked him to put down. He complied. When the officers approached Mr. Boyd to arrest him, he jumped up and started swinging a padlock and chain, striking one officer in the head and knocking him to the ground. Police say Mr. Boyd struck another officer before charging at three more.

At that point, police said, the officers moved back about a half-block, then shot and killed Mr. Boyd. Witnesses say that about eight gunshots were fired.

“His actions during his last tragic moments on earth were not part of his personality, but were a result of the irrational fear produced by his illness,” the family statement said.

Mr. Boyd’s family members were not identified, and said they did not want to give interviews.

Niamh McKenzie, who lived in the same West 12th apartment complex as Mr. Boyd for the past three years, described him as polite and soft-spoken. She said he kept to himself, but was friendly and light-hearted. When neighbours found out Mr. Boyd had been killed, they were shocked, she said.

“I was totally surprised,” Ms. McKenzie said. “It didn’t seem like he was the type of guy that would happen to. He was really friendly.”

When asked why officers didn’t use a less lethal force, such as a taser, police said the two officers didn’t have tasers.

Last week, Police Chief Jim Chu told reporters the officers took the option they needed to take.

But Jonathan Menzies, who witnessed the incident from a city bus, said Mr. Boyd was on his knees when the final shots were fired.

“At some point, he’s just slumping back and trying to get up, and slumping back, but the officer just kept on shooting him,” said the 29-year-old arborist.

The Vancouver Police professional standards department – formerly internal affairs – is conducting an internal investigation.

“Speaking with investigators this morning, they’ve spoken with over two dozen witnesses so far,” said Constable Howard Chow. “There’s still about 20 in the queue waiting to be spoken to and interviewed.”

He also asked that a witness who may have been recording video of the incident come forward and speak with investigators.

When the investigation is complete, the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team will review it. The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is also monitoring the situation, and the coroner’s department is expected to conduct an inquiry. But, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the Pivot Legal Society are calling for a separate, civilian review.

Constable Chow would not identify the officer who fired the fatal shots, but said he is still on active duty. The other officer involved, who was struck and incapacitated during the incident, is recovering, Constable Chow said.

Yesterday, near the site where Mr. Boyd died, about 10 bouquets of flowers were tied to a light pole. The words, “In memoriam, much admired and missed by many” were scrawled in marker on a blue piece of paper above it. Also posted were signs that read, “This was an execution in front of young people on a bus.”

However, his family had a different perspective on Mr. Boyd’s tragic end.

“His death means that he will never again have to face the struggle of regaining normality and getting on with his life.”