Ian Holmes/NanaimoNewsNOW
Warning: Story contains graphic content

The police watchdog group, Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), has confirmed that a man killed in a police-involved shooting in Nanaimo this summer shot himself in the head as police drew their guns and fired.

The IIO also confirmed that the officers’ use of lethal force in the incident was reasonable and appropriate.

“The evidence is clear that [the suspect], while surrounded by police, raised his gun and shot himself in the head. That was his only intention. However, as he did this, the gun would have been pointed at several police officers,” says the IIO in its report release.

“[The officers] had to act quickly to protect themselves, their fellow officers, and the public. Indeed, that was their duty at law. The fact that the gun had a particularly menacing appearance would have only heightened the concerns of the officers.”

The circumstances

On May 8th, 2018, Nanaimo RCMP were waiting at the Nanaimo ferry terminal to intercept a suspect who was reportedly involved in a violent carjacking in Penticton and had possession of a firearm, and was expected to be disembarking at the ferry terminal in the stolen car.

As the suspect drove off the ferry, officers separated the vehicle from the rest of the public, surrounded the car with multiple police vehicles, and attempted to arrest him. Once the car had been forced to a stop, the suspect drew a firearm from the passenger seat and shot himself in the head. As officers saw the suspect grab the firearm, they drew their weapons and fired.

As the IIO interviewed witnesses of the incident, some said they heard the suspect say over the phone that he has stolen a car and “wasted somebody.” Witnesses also say that the suspect said, “I’m not going to jail. The police are going to have to shoot me…”

The IIO says that the suspect had recently faced significant challenges in his life, including an injury that prevented him from working and a substance addiction. The IIO also discovered that the individual the suspect thought he had killed in the carjacking did not actually die from the attack.

“Following a review of all the evidence collected during the course of the investigation the facts demonstrate the [suspect] appeared to be in a desperate state, and his actions presented a life threatening situation to the police present. Their actions were both justified and consistent with their duties as police officers.”

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