IIO investigation reveals dramatic details of armed suspect's final moments
Vancouver police officers cleared after troubled investigation into 2016 Canadian Tire shooting
More than two years after Daniel Peter Rintoul was shot dead by Vancouver police outside a Canadian Tire, the officers involved have been cleared of wrongdoing.
That decision from the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. follows a contentious probe that was delayed when officers who witnessed the fatal shooting refused to sit for interviews. The IIO ended up resorting to the courts to compel police co-operation.
In a decision released Friday, the IIO's chief civilian director, Ron MacDonald, said it was clear that the decision to shoot Rintoul was both reasonable and necessary.
Rintoul, according to the decision, "posed a threat of deadly force to members of the public, who may have been in the store and possibly coming out, and to the lives of the officers present who later gave statements regarding their individual threat assessments."
Rintoul was shot nine times on Nov. 10, 2016 after he attempted to rob the store's gun section and held an elderly customer hostage at knifepoint. He also stabbed a store employee and a police officer.
Chaos inside the store
MacDonald's decision lays out the chaos that unfolded at an East Vancouver Canadian Tire on the day of the shooting.
Witnesses say the violence began when Rintoul, a large man who weighed more than 430 pounds, approached the store's hunting section carrying what appeared to be bear spray, the decision says. He said "give me the guns" to a store employee, and when the worker asked which one he'd like, Rintoul sprayed the man.
The employee told investigators that he ran at Rintoul carrying a rifle he was working on, and Rintoul sprayed him again, then grabbed him and stabbed him in the face and head.
Surveillance video from the store shows Rintoul breaking open the glass gun case and attempting to load a long gun, and then walking away with his bear spray and a knife.
The customer who would become a hostage, reported that he encountered Rintoul as the armed man got off an escalator.
"The next thing, he had his arm around me and he showed me his knife [and] said … 'just do what I say, and you won't get hurt," the customer said.
Rintoul guided him to the exit, then stepped in front of him and out the door, where two waiting police officers yelled at Rintoul to get down and drop his weapons. The hostage said he heard a "pop, pop, pop, pop," and then a store employee yelled at the hostage to get back inside the store.
Rintoul immediately began spraying when he saw the two officers. One of the constables used a taser in an attempt to bring him down, but Rintoul was too strong. As the officers struggled helplessly to slap handcuffs on the suspect, with some help from a civilian, Rintoul stabbed one officer in the stomach.
The injured cop yelled "help, help, I got stabbed, I got stabbed," as Rintoul tried to stab his partner, too.
'Finish me off'
Both officers managed the grab their pistols and fired seven shots at Rintoul, until he was down on the ground. But Rintoul wasn't dead and shouted "finish me off" repeatedly as the officers pointed their guns at him.
That's when backup began arriving — eventually, a total of eight officers were on hand.
They all watched as Rintoul sprayed his bear mace into the air. He then rolled himself over, sat up, and began spraying in the direction of the officers.
In an instant, one of the officers began shooting, and a second fired rubber bullets. Finally, Rintoul was motionless and face down on the ground.
MacDonald's report says it was reasonable for the officers to use fatal force to protect themselves, their injured colleague and members of the public, "as required by their duties and in accordance with the law."
The evidence gathered during the IIO's investigation included statements from nine officers, 68 civilian witnesses, 911 recordings, cellphone video, surveillance video and photographs from the scene.
But the investigation was stalled when officers who witnessed the shooting refused to give statements without first reviewing video and other evidence from the scene.
The IIO filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court in March 2017 asking for a court order compelling the officers to co-operate, and last fall, Justice Miriam Gropper granted that request, writing that the officers had been operating under a "misapprehension" of their duties.
According to the IIO, the outstanding interviews were all wrapped up by Dec. 11