The province’s police watchdog has cleared Vancouver police in the shooting of a man who attacked an officer on the city’s Downtown Eastside last summer.
In a public report released March 31, the Independent Investigations Office of BC said the July 30, 2022 incident was “one of the clearest examples” of a police officer being justified to use potentially lethal force.
According to the IIOBC, the suspect struck the officer two or three times in the head with a metal bar, while he was in full uniform and sitting in a marked police vehicle at East Hastings and Columbia streets.
Evidence from witnesses and surveillance video determined the suspect came up behind the police vehicle while it was stopped at a red light – and struck the officer’s head with the two and a half foot long bar – through an open window.
The officer and his partner, who was driving, both got out of the vehicle and as the suspect ran at him swinging the metal bar, the IIOBC said the officer drew his pistol and fired three shots.
The suspect, who was hit by two of the rounds, dropped the metal bar but then raised his fist and advanced towards the officer again.
The second officer, according to the IIOBC report, had to deploy a conducted energy weapon or taser, in order to subdue the suspect, who fell to the ground.
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The suspect, who was shot in his left shoulder and upper abdomen, recovered from his wounds after surgery.
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In a written statement provided to the IIOBC, the officer, who was off work for months after suffering a head wound and concussion, said he was terrified for his life and shot at the suspect in self-defence because “the male continued to run at me and I was certain his intent was to continue to bludgeon me in the head with the metal pole until I was dead.”
In deciding not to recommend charges against the officers involved, the IIOBC said the threat to the officer “of grievous bodily harm or death was close and imminent, from an assailant armed with a potentially lethal weapon who had already launched an unprovoked attack with it and was continuing that attack.”
John Corey William McKay, who turns 54 this year, was initially charged with the aggravated assault of a peace officer.
Court records indicate McKay was sentenced last month to two years less a day in jail and 12 months probation – on a lesser charge of assaulting a peace officer causing bodily harm.
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