The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has demanded to know why the Vancouver Police Department did not obtain shocking video footage of a man crawling on Granville Street before he was shot by police in August 2007.
Last night, CBC TV News broadcast footage of Paul Boyd, a mentally ill animator, shortly before police fired final bullet near Granville and West 16th Avenue. Boyd was behind a vehicle and not visible when he was killed.
“How is it that the VPD investigators did not canvass these witnesses for what they saw?” BCCLA president Robert Holmes said in a statement. “The video shows the photographer was in close proximity to the shooting. The failure of the VPD to control the scene and canvass witnesses for evidence is very troubling. The Independent Investigation Office will be relying on police departments to contain scenes and canvass for witnesses until the independent investigation can begin. If they can’t perform even that limited role, we’re in real trouble.”
The video was taken from a distance by a Winnipeg man, Andreas Bergen, who was visiting Vancouver at the time. He turned the images over to CBC.
Paul Boyd crawls on the street before the final VPD bullet is fired.
The BCCLA wants the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to reopen its review. This comes more than two months after the association condemned the earlier review by Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe, who upheld Chief Jim Chu's ruling that the use of force was "appropriate". (Chu became chief the same month that Boyd was shot.)
Crown counsel did not lay any charges in connection with the incident.
In a statement issued on November 9, 2009, the criminal justice branch declared that an "exhaustive review, involving senior prosecutors...has resulted in the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the officer's use of force was excessive in the circumstances".
Moments before his death, Boyd is seen in the video crawling across Granville Street with several officers in the vicinity.
According to the criminal justice branch, Boyd suffered from bipolar disorder that caused paranoia and delusions. When free of his symptoms, he was "a stable, intelligent and thoughtful person".
"While on the ground, Mr. Boyd appeared cooperative and non-combative," the criminal justice stated in 2009. "The first plainclothes officer removed his handcuffs from his pouch and approached him. Mr. Boyd suddenly jumped up into a standing position and charged at him while swinging a bicycle chain."
He apparently struck the officer's head, causing him to fall backward into the street. The video shows an officer removing the chain while Boyd is on his hands and knees.
The criminal justice branch also stated in 2009 that Boyd was "struck and knocked down or partly knocked down by seven shots", but "continued to get up and advance or attempt to get up and advance on the officer after each shot".
"According to the officer Mr. Boyd was on his feet and practically vertical when the last shot was fired," the statement declared.
There were 55 witnesses in the area at the time who observed the interactions between Boyd and police, according to the criminal justice branch.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.