Police watchdog puts cloud over courageous cops


On Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) issued a media statement saying the Acting Chief Civilian Director has made a report to Crown Counsel in relation to an incident involving the Vancouver Police.  Essentially they are saying one or more of the officers involved in a shooting on June 10, 2014 “may” have committed a criminal offence.

Yet again, we see the IIO overreach is what should be a cut and dried case. Let’s look at just how cut and dried.

At approximately 11:10 in the morning Gerald Mark Battersby, 61, pumped multiple shots with a .357 revolver into 52 yr. old Paul Dragan outside the Starbucks at Davie and Marinaside Cres. As it happened, a couple of VPD officers were just pulling up in front of Starbucks, drew their weapons and challenged Battersby who replied by shooting at the police then fleeing on a bike onto the Sea Wall towards Science Centre.

Police gave chase and called for cover units to try and block Battersby from the other side. During the chase more shots were fired. Once at Science World, Battersby was engaged by members of VPD. More shots were exchanged. A female VPD member was trapped in her police car as Battersby shot into it, wounding her with flying glass.

Another officer using the police car for cover got caught as Battersby chased him around the car firing as the officer tried to desperately find cover. Battersby was armed with a six shot .357 revolver. He’d already re-loaded at least once, perhaps more.

As he had the male officer within a couple of feet and down he was shot by at least one of the covering officers and by the wounded female officer in the car. Security video seized by the VPD in their investigation was shared with the IIO. The video clearly shows the exchange of gunfire, the pursuit of the male VPD member and Battersby being shot and going down.

How, in the name of all things holy, could anyone think this was anything but a justified use of force by the VPD?

It’s stunning really. Here’s a couple of screen grabs from the security video.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 4.14.54 PM

It shows Battersby pointing the .357, the barrel is protruding from a wrapping. You can see the male VPD member ducking down on the passenger side of the vehicle trying to avoid the shooter. One of the VPD members who shot Battersby can be seen in the lower right.

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 9.51.22 AM

As we saw in the case of Delta PD Cst. Jordan MacWilliams, the IIO leap to conclusions they shouldn’t because they simply do not understand policing or the use of force parameters. They get a whopping 10 weeks training at the JIBC, but zero ‘use of force’ training, the very thing they are supposed to investigate.

Another part of the problem is the wording in the Police Act which essentially says if the CCD of the IIO believes an offence “may” have been committed he shall send a Report to Crown Counsel (RTCC). This is far lower than the standard the police must meet before they can submit an RTCC in a criminal case and far lower than the standard which Crown applies to approve a criminal charge. At the very least, that needs to change. The police are not the enemy here. They protect us from the likes of Battersby.

And, as demonstrated on that day in June last year, they do it with courage and professionalism. Which is much more than I can say about the IIO.

But as with everything else when we look at these cases, there’s more. During his interview with the IIO, the “Affected Person,” Battersby told investigators that his plan was to shoot Dragan, one more person and then shoot at police to get them to kill him. He intended to do everything he could to force the police to shoot him.

So, despite all of this and dozens of witnesses who corroborate the actions of the VPD, the IIO evidently still thinks at least one of the VPD officers did something criminal in this incident?

Words fail me.

A day after the inexplicable release by the IIO, which now casts a shadow over heroic police officers, Deputy Chief Doug Lepard, as Acting Chief in the absence of Chief Adam Palmer, sent an email to all VPD officers.

What is clear in the email is that this was an unexpected surprise from the IIO. But also that those officers have the complete support of the Chief Constable and his senior management team.

Said Lepard, “I have requested a copy of the RTCC that as we move forward we can better understand the information underlying the IIO’s decision this case.”

He finished off with this: “I want to take this opportunity to again express admiration for the bravery shown by the officers involved in this incident and the professionalism that VPD members demonstrate every day in the performance of their duties. I also want you all to know that the officers involved in this shooting will continue to have the VPD’s complete support through this process.”

These are not the words of someone who thinks any VPD member did anything wrong that day. Quite the contrary in fact.

That no one died that day is about the only good thing. To put a cloud over the actions of the courageous VPD officers involved is shameful.


*To view the video go to theprovince.com

Leo Knight


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  1. Unbelievable. I simply have no words to describe how angry this makes me.

    It is fairly evident that the IIO is determined to have a member chargerd no matter what the costs.

    Perhaps the powers that be are putting the pressure on to see some results?And for what. To appease the vocal minority of police-haters in this Province who cry foul over every use of force incident.

    This is getting ridiculous.

  2. Leo, I am appalled at the conclusion of the IIO. Obviously such findings may jeopardize the life of officers doing their job as they may hesitate to use their weapons in the future. It looks to me that anything an officer might do will be found to be criminal by the IIO. I don’t know the competencies of the members of the IIO or lack off but in view of your article I am quite concern for policing in BC. In this case it looks like the Charter of Rights does not apply to law enforcement as they are being essentially called criminals for defending the citizens of Vancouver and their life. It is a shame. On the other hand, I am pleased to see the leaders of VPD’s support for their officer.

  3. It seems to me that anyone critiquing the IIO is jumping the gun here.

    With my opinion limited to reading what has been available we have no idea what charge was recommended by the IIO.

    Perhaps an action was taken by a VPD member during the pursuit, or after that met a criminal threshold that has nothing to do with the science world shooting that has been the focus here and in the province newspaper.

    We pay police extremely well.

    They should be open to fair criticism and not be offended by an independent eye looking at their actions.

    The system clearly works, charges were dropped against the delta member.

    For too many years cops investigated themselves with shameful results at times. Now with the IIO and widespread video surveillance available the police shouldn’t be afraid unless they are doing anything wrong.

    Just because a cop is “protecting” me or society means he should have a free pass for his or her mistakes like many seem to advocate.

    • Nonsense. Had the IIO done a competent investigation in the first instance the Delta member should not have had to go through the hell of being charged with murder. Murder for God’s sake. That was patently ridiculous and a huge over reach by the IIO and Crown.

      The police are allowed by law to use force. Whenever they do they must be accountable for thier actions. But, the use of force by police can only be criminal if it isn’t justified. It was clearly justified at the Starlight Casino and it was certainly justified in this case. Clearly, the video shows exactly that.

  4. Kudos for working to get out the facts….seems to be a case of IIO trying to look like they are doing
    something..not sure quite what….

  5. Itis easy for the public to judge from a distance, but, they are not involved in a dysfunctional and dangerous situation, which comes down to seconds and a matter of life or death situation..one sec too long and the results canb e catasrophic….criminals need to know, if they play with fire, they can get burned.

  6. Shit like this is why some cops will just say FIDO……and arrive after the shit has gone down. Why be 1st at a scene like that and put ones self in harms way, then face jeopardy by the IIO. After all the IIO folks do not want the big picture. They just want to fry a cop. I’d really be interested to see what those cracker jack IIP detectives wrote this time….

  7. It should be noted that one of the Officers chased Battersby on foot from the scene of the ambush at Davie St and Marinaside Crs to Science World. The other officer borrowed a bike and followed broadcasting information while being shot at. The officers at Science World no doubt had a bit of luck on their side as well as reacting based on their training. Thankfully non of them were seriously hurt .
    Will he general public ever be informed what transgression the IIO reported to Crown? There is serious need for an Investigative Body to be formed to have oversight over the IIO and their investigations. After all, look at the general incompetence of their investigations and what they send to Crown Counsel.


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