UPDATE: Inquest jury reports on police-shooting death of son of Squamish chief

An RCMP officer investigates following the January 2013 death of Ryan Allen Walter Jacob. - Ryan Stelting/NewsLeader file
An RCMP officer investigates following the January 2013 death of Ryan Allen Walter Jacob.
— image credit: Ryan Stelting/NewsLeader file

The jury has made two recommendations as a result of the coroner's inquest last week into the death of Ryan Allen Walter Jacob.

This comes almost a year after the officer involved was cleared of wrongdoing by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO).

Jacob, 45, was a Vancouver resident and the son of Squamish First Nation Chief Gilbert "Gibby" Jacob.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2013 a Burnaby RCMP officer responded to a 911 call of a man with a knife in the 4100-block of Albert Street. The officer spotted a suspect matching the description on Hastings Street near Macdonald Avenue.

Following a confrontation, the man was shot and taken by ambulance to Vancouver General Hospital where he died soon after arrival.

Burnaby RCMP Cpl. William Wark testified he ordered Jacob to get on the ground, according to media reports of the inquest held in Burnaby. Jacob instead kept walking then stopped and pulled out two large knives from his backpack before running at the officer.

Wark fired three times at Jacob who died of gunshot wounds to the chest.

At the time of the shooting Jacob was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for parole violation, had stopped taking his medication and was acting aggressively and depressed.

Wark was cleared of wrongdoing last year by the IIO, which investigates such officer-related incidents.

The IIO's report into the case included details of an interview with the complainant, a female friend who had been drinking with Jacob.

The woman's interview by an IIO investigator was played at the inquest. In the IIO's report she said Jacob had helped her move and after having dinner they were sharing some alcohol.

"He pulled a knife out of his backpack to cut up a lime for the drinks and she asked why he was carrying a knife. He indicated it was for his protection. When she challenged him on this, he responded with 'I could kill you; you know that, right now and not give a sh--.' The complainant recalled the affected person stating he could 'kill anybody right now and not give a sh--.'

"The complainant knew the affected person was subject to a warrant and he had told her that he was not going back to jail. He had said the only place he was going was 'in a box.' She was fearful and told the affected person she was going upstairs. She went upstairs and called police.'"

Another Burnaby RCMP officer who witnessed the incident told the IIO that Jacob "sprinted at the subject officer, who then retreated and fired three shots," said the IIO report.

While Wark was trained to use a Taser, he did not have it as part of his equipment the night of the incident, the report said.

The knives Jacob wielded appeared to be chef's knives eight to 10 inches long. A toxicology report concluded he had an elevated blood alcohol level but there were no prescription medications or illicit drugs detected, it said.

The IIO said under the circumstances the officer would not be criminally liable for shooting Jacob to defend himself from an imminent attack.

"Officers are trained that when deadly force is a necessary option, to aim for 'center mass.' Even the most highly trained marksman would have difficulty striking a limb, hand or foot of an assailant during the course of a fast moving, emotionally charged critical incident."

The inquest jury recommended that the health ministry, with B.C. Ambulance Service, "investigate the addition of more [Advanced Life Support] units to the Lower Mainland."

It also recommends that Burnaby RCMP officers receive more training on their communication equipment, "specifically concentrating on the matter of queueing during emergency situations."

RCMP E Division spokesperson Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said by email that such recommendations are taken "very seriously" by the RCMP.

They are reviewed by its criminal operations branch which provides a full written response to the coroner, he said.

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