A Crown decision not to lay charges against the Vancouver police officer who shot a man suffering from bipolar disorder eight times on a street has left the man's father questioning the lack of input from civilian witnesses.
"I was told it was a thorough investigation and it would be a balanced report but, to me, it doesn't seem at all balanced," David Boyd said yesterday, referring to the report from the Criminal Justice Branch that concluded "there is insufficient evidence to establish that the officer's use of force was excessive in the circumstances."
Mr. Boyd is not sure charges should have been laid, and said he will need time to consult his family to decide what to do next. But he noted the report appears to rely entirely on the observations of police officers involved in the incident in the usually crowded Granville Street and 15th Avenue area on the night of Aug. 13, 2007.
"Very little weight seems to be given to the independent witnesses, so I am quite disappointed at that."
Paul Boyd, a 39-year-old animator, was gunned down after he began acting erratically, shouting at people in a restaurant, confronting others on the street and walking around with a hammer as well as a bicycle lock on a chain.
Confronted by an officer, who drew his firearm, Mr. Boyd seemed initially co-operative, then swung the chain and launched into a struggle that injured two officers before one officer fired nine shots, hitting Mr. Boyd eight times.
"While Mr. Boyd was struck and knocked down or partially knocked down by seven shots, he continued to get up and advance or attempt to get up and advance on the officer after each shot," said the Crown statement.
The police officer fired a final shot to Mr. Boyd's head. "He did not get up again," said the statement.
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie disputed David Boyd's criticism saying the evidence of 55 civilian witnesses was considered by the Crown.
"The branch proceeded on the basis of all of the available evidence," he said.
Mr. Boyd's father said it was hard to believe his son was a threat after being shot so many times.
"After being shot seven times, I can't see that he was a Terminator getting up and coming at them in an aggressive way after that. I find that very hard to believe," he said.
All parties agree Paul Boyd had stopped taking medication to deal with his bipolar condition. His father said his son largely met the challenges of his illness, but may not have been attentive to his own needs because he was distressed about his mother being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which killed her five months after the shooting.
In a statement, the Vancouver police expressed their condolences to Mr. Boyd's family.
The officer involved has returned to duty.
Bruce Brown of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner noted his office is monitoring a VPD professional standards investigation into the officer's conduct.