Victoria police justified in shooting gunman at Royal Jubilee Hospital, watchdog says

A Victoria police officer was correct in shooting a knife-wielding man in the emergency department of the Royal Jubilee Hospital last year, the British Columbia Office of Independent Investigations has concluded.

The provincial police watchdog issued its ruling on the matter on Thursday, finding the officer’s actions were necessary and appropriate after a fellow officer’s attempt to subdue the man with a Taser was ineffective.

According to the IIO report, the man was taken to hospital by paramedics on March 15, 2021, after reporting he had ingested plutonium.

About 30 minutes after he was admitted, a witness reported that the man had a blank look on his face and brandished a knife, saying, “I want to kill someone or someone,” according to the IIO report.

A hospital security guard ordered the man to drop the knife, but he refused. The guard told IIO investigators the man “just stared at me, blank, said nothing, really no reaction.”

The guard summoned two police officers who were already in the hospital for an unrelated matter.

One officer pulled out his Taser and the other his pistol. The man continued to advance with the knife outstretched at the officer with the Taser, prompting him to fire the weapon, which struck the man but did not stop him, the report said.

The officer told investigators she believed the man was going to kill her.

A surveillance camera captured the moment the man was hit by the Taser, the weapon’s red laser site dot visible on his body, the IIO reported.

“He then flinched and continued to move forward and out of the frame of the camera,” according to investigators.

The other officer then fired his pistol once, hitting the man in the abdomen. Even after being shot and on the ground, he refused to go down with a knife, police say.

The officer who fired his Taser had to “rip” the knife out of his hand because he was still clutching it so tightly, she said.

The man was handcuffed and underwent surgery in hospital to repair the gunshot wound.

When questioned later, he told IIO investigators that he wanted to die and that the incident was a suicide attempt.

“This is an unfortunate example of a situation where medical professionals and the police tried to convince [the man] drop the knife, but without success,” Ronald MacDonald, the IOI’s chief civilian director, said in his report.

“Ultimately, he deliberately took steps to make those around him believe that he intended to cause grievous bodily harm or death to one or more of them.”

MacDonald said it would not have been appropriate for officers to approach the man and “just try to lay hands on him” while he was armed with the knife.

“It was both necessary and reasonable, in these circumstances, that his compliance be achieved through the use of the CEW [conducted energy weapon] in the first place,” added the head of the IOI.

“When the CEW failed and officers faced the threat of a gunman approaching them and other civilians, lethal force had to be used to prevent anyone from being harmed. “

The man who was shot has since “recovered considerably from his injuries”, the IIO said on Thursday.