B.C.’s police watchdog concluded there were no reasonable grounds to pursue charges against Coquitlam RCMP in the case of a Coquitlam man who fell to his death during a domestic disturbance call last year, according to a recently published report.
Police arrived at the 1100-block of Heffley Crescent after 3 a.m. on August 1, 2021 following a 911 call from a woman who said her partner was drunk and abusive. She said her partner had punched some glass and there was “blood everywhere,” according to the recently released findings of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
Later in the call, the woman said her partner had a knife. She shouted: “Get away from me.”
When the police were on their way, the man was: “running around the whole house like with his head cut off,” according to the woman’s report.
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As officers were coming up the elevator, the woman told her partner to “go down the stairs.”
The man opened the door but on seeing police officers in the hall, he slammed the door in their faces, according to the woman’s evidence.
According to the woman’s report, she opened the door for the police and was pushed aside “against the closet” as officers ran past her into the one-bedroom apartment in pursuit of her partner.
She said she heard an officer say: “Freeze,” but didn’t see officers interact with her partner.
On the 911 call, the woman said: “He’s going to go on the balcony, he’s going to jump off the balcony . . . the police are here . . . did he jump?”
According to reports supplied by Coquitlam RCMP, three officers entered, approaching the man at a “walking pace.”
One officer entered with his service pistol drawn due to the report that the man had a knife. Another officer was carrying a “less lethal” projectile launcher pointed at the ground.
An officer stated that after seeing the man head to the balcony, “he did not pursue as he wanted to try to de-escalate the situation.”
The police eventually shone their flashlights down from the balcony and saw the man’s body on the rooftop parking lot.
There was no blood found on any of the officers’ equipment, uniforms or hands.
A knife was found near the man’s body.
Anonymous message unconvincing
One person contacted the Independent Investigations Office, writing that he’d seen the whole thing while out for a stroll and that police pushed the man off the balcony.
Despite inquiries, the writer offered no further response. Investigators also found it “unlikely” that a street level observer would be able to clearly see what happened on the balcony, given both the darkness and the distance.
The message: “does not include any information not readily available to the public,” according to the IIO findings.
Officers did not make contact with the man nor cause him to fall by threats or “precipitous pursuit,” according to the report completed by IIO chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald. The man jumped or fell from the balcony and died from subsequent injuries.