Police fatally shoot man on Vancouver's Granville Bridge
Independent Investigations Office has been called to investigate
The Vancouver Police Department says it has notified B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office after a fatal police-involved shooting on the Granville Bridge Thursday evening.
In a statement, the VPD said officers responded at 6:45 p.m. after a 911 caller reported a person acting erratically.
"When officers arrived there was an altercation that resulted in the man being shot and killed by police," reads the statement.
VPD Sgt. Steve Addison spoke to reporters later Thursday night.
"There's still lots we don't know about what happened," Addison said, adding the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which investigates all police interactions in the province when someone is killed or seriously injured, will be leading a probe into what happened.
Addison said the person who called 911 felt that a man who was walking on the bridge was "acting in a way that was a danger to public safety."
"When our officers arrived on scene, during the altercation, the officers perceived that there was a threat of either death or grievous bodily harm to them or others," Addison said, adding that several officers responded to the call, but it will be up to the IIO to determine how many of them fired their weapons.
"We believe at this point that the person either had a weapon or had access to a weapon."
The Granville Bridge was still shut down as of 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and Addison said he expected it to remain closed for several more hours.
In a separate statement, the IIO said it had deployed investigators to the area Thursday night and will be trying to confirm the details of what happened during the altercation.
IIO asks not to jump to conclusions
On Friday afternoon, the IIO's chief civilian director Ron MacDonald told On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko it was too early for anyone to draw any conclusions.
"We know shots were fired. We know the man was struck by bullets and we know that he died from his injuries," he said, adding that eight IIO investigators were on scene until about 3 a.m. and returned again Friday during the day.
MacDonald said he was concerned the language used by police could potentially impact witnesses and suggest to the public that a decision about what happened Thursday night has already been made.
"That end of the bridge in Vancouver is a very populated area," MacDonald said.
"That means not only is there potential for many witnesses who would have seen something, heard something or taken video ... [but] it's a challenge for us to follow up."
MacDonald said the IIO is dealing with staffing shortages and a lack of resources even as the number of police-involved incidents it's tasked with investigating continues to rise.
While the number of police-involved deaths across B.C. is on pace to match the previous high of 76, set in 2020, the IIO says it's seen a spike in police shootings and police interactions where suspects had a firearm this year.
The IIO records its annual statistics based on the fiscal year, which runs from April 1 to March 31, and there have been 65 police-involved deaths throughout the province since April 1, 2022.
The IIO is asking anyone who may have witnessed what happened or recorded video footage of the incident to contact the toll-free witness line at 1 855-446-8477 or fill out the contact form on their website.
With files from On the Coast and Akshay Kulkarni