While the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. had submitted a report recommending charges, B.C. prosecutors said the recommended charges would not meet the threshold for prosecution.
Prosecutors consulted a use of force expert, who they say determined the circumstances justified the SO’s decision to fire the initial two rounds, and that given there were no bystanders in the line of fire, the officer’s actions were generally appropriate under the circumstances.
In a report released Thursday, the officer in question was described as having followed proper training and protocol in his attempted arrest of the suspect,.
On Jan. 15, 2016, a security guard at a New Westminster Walmart called police after spotting an individual that had previously been arrested and banned from the store. While that individual was arrested by police without issue, an associate was spotted on surveillance camera taking two items.
When additional officers arrived, a suspect matching the description of the associate was seen in the parking lot carrying two boxed items and a cellphone but no Walmart bag.
New Westminster Police on the scene of an officer involved shooting behind the Walmart in the Queensborough Landing Mall, New Westminster on January 15, 2016. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG
When an officer began speaking with the man, he became agitated, began angling his body away from the officer and turned to run. The officer then fired a Taser and the suspect fell to the ground.
When the man got up again, he pulled a handgun and pointed it at the police officer and civilian witnesses. The police officer fired two shots at the suspect before the suspect fled through the parking lot, ignoring requests to drop his weapon.
Several more shots were fired by the officer as the suspect ran to a grassy area behind the store where he was finally apprehended.
“It is reasonable to infer that the suspect posed a continuing risk of grievous bodily harm or death to the officers and those in the area, including occupants of the nearby stores,” the report read, adding the officer “had a common law duty to protect those persons.”
In October 2017, the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Surrey resident Nathan McVannell, was ordered to serve 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to pointing and possession of a prohibited firearm.
The British Columbia Prosecution Service says charges will not proceed against a New Westminster police officer who shot and wounded an armed suspected shoplifter nearly four years ago.
A statement from the agency says the standard to begin a prosecution has not been met and charges have not been approved.
The Independent Investigations Office, which probes all cases of serious harm or death involving police, found reasonable grounds to believe the officer had committed an offence related to use of force.
A summary of the evidence shows the officer first used a conducted energy weapon to try to stop the suspect and then fired eight shots, hitting and injuring the fleeing man, who had drawn and pointed a handgun.
A prosecution service says the Crown would be unable to prove the officer did not act in self defence or was careless in the use of his firearm and, without the likelihood of a conviction, charges will not go ahead.