Special prosecutor rules no charges to be laid in police shooting of Paul Boyd
No criminal charges will be laid against the constable responsible for one of the most shocking police shootings in Vancouver’s history, the provincial Criminal Justice Branch announced today.
The shooting of Paul Boyd by Const. Lee Chipperfield took place near Granville Street and West 16th Avenue more than six years ago, on the evening of August 13, 2007.
In a news release issued today (October 28), the Criminal Justice Branch said that special prosecutor Mark R. Jetté’s decision came after his appointment on June 24 of this year by assistant deputy attorney general Joyce DeWitt–Van Oosten to review a report prepared by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which usually looks at cases of injury or death involving Alberta police.
That report was ordered by then–B.C. attorney general Shirley Bond after new video evidence of the shooting surfaced in May 2012 that appeared to contradict evidence given at a December 2010 coroner’s inquest by Chipperfield.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association claimed that the new evidence clearly showed that Boyd, an animator who had bipolar disorder, was no threat to police as he had already been shot several times and was on his hands and knees when Chipperfield shot him in the head. Chipperfield fired a total of nine shots at Boyd within a period of 80 seconds; eight of the bullets found their target.
(Chipperfield had testified at that inquest that he believed Boyd was still armed with a metal bike chain he had been swinging minutes earlier and standing almost upright when he fired the final shot; according to evidence and the video, another officer picked up the chain prior to the fatal bullet being fired.)
Originally, in November 2009, the branch concluded that Chipperfield would not be charged as there was no substantial likelihood of conviction in the shooting case. The branch stated in a news release at that time: "An exhaustive review, involving senior prosecutors within the Criminal Justice Branch, has resulted in the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the officer’s use of force was excessive in the circumstances."
Previous to the branch’s 2009 decision, the police complaint commissioner ruled that the constable had been affected during the shooting by "inattentional blindness", which, along with conflicting eyewitness accounts, meant that there would be no internal disciplinary action taken.
In the latest clearing of Chipperfield, Vancouver lawyer Jetté’s "clear statement" overview said: "After considering all of the available evidence as presented by the investigators, including new video evidence that surfaced in May 2012, the Special Prosecutor has concluded that there is no substantial likelihood of conviction on a criminal charge. In other words, it is his assessment that the evidence is not sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting of Mr. Boyd constitutes a culpable homicide within the meaning of the Criminal Code of Canada."
The shooting came one day before current Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu started his job as chief constable. This special prosecutor's review was seen as the first high-profile challenge for Minister of Justice and Attorney General Suzanne Anton, a former Crown prosecutor, since her June 7 appointment by Premier Christy Clark.