Police 'begged' Site C activist to put down knife before shooting him, witness says
James McIntyre was killed by RCMP after he confronted them wearing a mask and wielding a knife
The Independent Investigations Office has cleared an RCMP officer of any wrong-doing in a fatal shooting in Dawson Creek last year.
On the evening of July 16, two officers were dispatched to the Stonebridge Hotel where a meeting on the controversial Site C dam project had just taken place.
There, they were confronted by a man later identified as James McIntyre wearing a hoodie and mask and wielding a knife.
A report from the IIO's chief civilian director says all evidence points to an RCMP officer shooting and killing McIntyre but concludes the actions were reasonable.
IIO says police acted appropriately
The IIO interviewed 16 civilian witnesses as well as reviewing video footage and talking to police and paramedics.
The overall conclusion is police acted appropriately in the face of a 'real and imminent' threat.
"According to witnesses, the affected person [McIntyre] was: 'waving' the knife, 'threatening', 'lunging at', 'jabbing at', or 'trying to stab' them," reads the report.
There is no evidence that either officer did anything to provoke or justify these actions.- Indpendent Investigations Office report
"The manner of his advance is described variously as approaching 'really fast, coming at, rushing towards' or 'chasing' them ... There is no evidence that either officer did anything to provoke or justify these actions but they were confronted with threatening and potentially deadly assaultive acts involving a non-trivial weapon."
One witness described the officers backing away from McIntyre while begging him to drop his weapon. Police tried using pepper spray, but it was ineffective. A single shot was then fired, which killed McIntyre.
The IIO says based on the evidence, the officer who pulled the trigger did not commit any offence and charges will not be recommended.
Officer wasn't interviewed, hasn't filed report
The report notes the officer who shot McIntyre did not take part in the investigation, nor does he seem to have filed a report as required by RCMP protocol.
"Subject officers are protected under the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] and are not compelled to provide the IIO with any statement," explained IIO spokesperson Marten Youssef.
However, Youssef said it is policy for police to provide internal statements any time they use deadly force and that doesn't appear to have happened, either.
"They are required to write timely reports, timely accounts, detailing their account of what happened. It appears as of the time of writing this case that the subject officer in this investigation did not comply with that policy."
An RCMP spokesperson said in a statement that the officer had provided a verbal account of the incident.
McIntyre described as gentle and introverted
McIntyre was described as a gentle and introverted man by his cousin, Keith LaRiviere, Sr.
Speaking to CBC on the anniversary of McIntyre's death, LaRiviere said McIntyre's "isolation and huge brain" drew him to computers and helped him connect online with model train enthusiasts across the United States.
McIntyre was also claimed by members of the online activist group Anonymous, who threatened to avenge his death.
He was worried about the Peace country being destroyed by another dirty project.- Keith LaRiveier, Sr.
McIntyre was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, a common symbol for Anonymous, when he was killed, and IIO investigators looked into a Twitter account believed to belong to McIntyre. That account had made posts suggesting the user planned to attend and disrupt the Site C meeting.
LaRiviere said he didn't know anything about connections to Anonymous but said McIntyre, who was Métis, was worried about the impact of the Site C dam on First Nations territory.
"He was worried about the Peace country being destroyed by another dirty project," said LaRiviere.
"If that's Jim's message, don't stifle his voice."
Anonymous pressured investigators
Youseff said the high-profile nature of the case and apparent connection to Anonymous put added pressure on IIO investigators.
"Our staff received a number of pressures, a high degree of scrutiny, related to this case," he said. "But we were not distracted by this."
He also acknowledged there was some initial confusion around what brought police to the scene in the first place.
Police were called because they had received reports of a disturbance at an open house for the Site C dam. When they came across McIntyre, they believed he had been the source of that disturbance.
It wasn't until the next day that investigators determined a different person, Terry Hadland, had been responsible for the initial police call.
"I triggered the whole darn thing because I didn't want Hydro to get away with smooching up to the public," said Hadland, a retired wheat farmer who has opposed Site C for decades.
He admitted to ripping up maps, calling BC Hydro staff names and overturning two tables.
Hadland said he didn't hear about the deadly shooting the next day.
"Oh, I was devastated," said Hadland. "I felt awfully guilty. I could hardly believe that ... it was surreal, especially as I began to realize it was me they were out for."
McIntyre was threatening
While the IIO report noted police erroneously thought it was McIntyre that had caused the earlier disturbance, it also said it was McIntyre's own actions that caused them to act.
"They found themselves directly approached by a man inexplicably wearing a mask, with a hood over his head, and seemingly concealing something behind his back," it says.
"Very quickly, it became apparent not only that the man was armed with a knife, but also that he was threatening them with it. It is not insignificant in this regard that he was not simply carrying the knife, but opened it as he approached them, and that it was of a type that is specifically designed for use as a weapon and is a prohibited weapon in Canada."
Youseff said Hadland had been interviewed after he spoke to media but it was clear he had not witnessed the event nor seen McIntyre.
With files from Betsy Trumpener.