Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cop cleared in fatal shooting

The Office of the Police Com-plaint Commissioner has ruled Vancouver police Const. Lee Chipperfield didn't use excessive force in killing Paul Boyd during a 911 call on Aug. 13, 2007. Only I disagree.

Resisting arrest is a serious offence. Yet the law and more importantly the moral obligation governing the use of force addresses the concept of reasonable force. If someone pushes someone, pulling out a gun and shooting them in the head would not be an example of reasonable force. That would clearly be excessive.

In this case the police respond to a 9/11 call. Thanks for doing that by the way. It can be a thankless job as we all know. When police arrived at the scene after receiving a report of an out of control man on Granville, they came across Boyd.

One officer, while seated in a police cruiser, was approached by Boyd, who appeared to be holding a hammer. The second officer drew his gun, and ordered Boyd to drop the hammer and get on the ground.

Boyd, 39, complied, but when approached by police jumped up and struck the officer several times with a bicycle chain. Attempts were made to stop Boyd, but he ran into the street, swinging the chain. Const. Lee Chipperfield, one of the officers at the scene, fired several shots from his service pistol, with a fatal shot hitting Boyd in the head. Boyd was suffering from bipolar disorder and hadn't taken his medication that night.

OK bipolar not taking his meds. The police had no way of knowing that nor does it excuse his conduct. It just puts it into the perspective of mental health. He put what the police thought was a hammer down. Then he ran into the street swinging a chain. Shooting him in the head is excessive. In that case the officer should have pulled out his truncheon, trapped the chain and broken disabled the suspects knee.

If he had a knife and was making stabbing motions at the public that would have been more serious but what ever happened to putting one in his leg? Why do we always have to go for the kill shot and put one in his head or chest. Guy with mental health issues swings a chain and gets shot in the head. Then someone tells us it OK because the officer didn't do anything wrong. It's not OK.


  1. "But what ever happened to putting one in his leg?"

    Sigh....Where to start....OK....

    1) Shooting someone in the leg is movie stuff. Most people, and this includes people who are "trained" users of firearms, are not good enough to make that shot, even on a stationary target. And legs are usually moving, or about to move in a dynamic situation such as is described.

    People think the cops can shoot because they carry a gun. There is no such correlation. Police are almost always amazingly ignorant about the subject of firearms, they will typically know only what they have been taught, which is of course the minimum necessary except for the ERT guys. Most (especially in a gun-phobic society like Canada) shoot only when required to qualify, be that once/twice a year or whatever. There is no "Practice to advance level of ability" component unless the cop is himself a "gun person". And even then I'd imagine he/she would be looked askance by peers/management. Once they qualify at the academy at the beginning of their career, that's usually going to be it for development.

    2) Training - EVERYONE who uses a gun during the performance of official duties in Canada or the US, be that LEO/Mil/Private is trained to shoot "center of mass". That is because the torso offers the most reliable target. Reliable means a) largest- best chance of a hit which will incapacitate the subject b) moves less than any other body part, therefore easier to hit than an extremity and c) offers the best probability of containing the projectile (bullet) which might otherwise be a danger to anyone in it's path.

    The fact that the officer hit the guy in the head is proof that he was either not capable of a high level of marksmanship under stress or did not follow his training.

    The "21 foot rule" as it applies to edged or any other weapon capable of inflicting a fatal blow would seem not to apply here. A bicycle chain?? Really? Taser/OC/Baton/K9. Deadly force, especially on a crowded street where the offender was not advancing on the officer, um, not so much.

    From what is described of the incident, this is yet another example of an officer on the street being out of his depth in his command of himself and his abilities/comfort level regarding the situation. Often this can be a training (initial or ongoing) deficiency, but just as often a person has been put on the job who shouldn't be there. Any man (or woman) whose level of personal comfort with combative situations is deficient will resort to a deadly force solution when other options would have solved the problem as well as have preserved life. Too many LEO's these days have the "Whatever it takes to go home safe at the end of my shift" mentality. If they're that nervous about personal risk, they're in the wrong job. Hire some veterans of military service in preference to Sociology majors who've played team sports as a preferred recruit and IMHO the public would be better served.

  2. I still think putting one in his leg has merit, especially from close range. I know it sounds a little like Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys but why not? It's not about marksmanship, it's about trajectory. If you're shooting for the chest you're shooting along that plane. If you're shooting for a leg, you're shooting below the waste. Those Scotland Yard gang busters that murdered that suspect in London which started the riots were like that. They are "trained" (told) to use deadly force. If you are a marksmen with a good scope you are quite capable of putting one in his leg. They choose not too because they are taught (told) to always use deadly force. I guess they're also taught to lie about the suspect firing upon them and how to falsify that evidence as well.

  3. It appears to be a return to business as usual in our huge, new RCMP budget:

    "Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon criticized the contract for saying little about the quality of policing."

    “It’s easy for the Mounties to say they’ll be more careful with the money,” Prof. Gordon said. “It’s much more difficult for them to be truly accountable and responsive to the communities they serve."

    “Not a slice of the contract has anything to do with the delivery of police services.”

    'NDP justice critic Mike Farnworth shared Prof. Gordon’s lack of enthusiasm for the deal."

    “I think it’s going to mean an increase is costs in certain areas for local governments,” Mr. Farnworth said. “I also think there was a chance for the province to play a much stronger role [in seeking certain changes]. …That did not take place. I think it was a real missed opportunity."

    http://tinyurl.com/8xsdtk8 (Globe & Mail)

  4. I do see your point, but we would me talking VERY close. And even then it would be a chance. You appear not to be taking the dynamic of a leg being a part of the body that moves suddenly and without warning very seriously. If it does and you miss, or even if you hit and it over-penetrates as a characteristic of either the load used or a peripheral hit, (outer 1/3 on either side of the middle of the leg) your firing "at a downward angle" just created a potential ricochet which endangers others. The farther away when you shoot at that leg, the shallower the angle and the greater chance of this. "Rule #4 Know your target and what's beyond it".

    Deadly force is used in deadly force situations. There is no "shoot to wound". This is movie stuff. People have "seen" folks "get shot" in the shoulder so many times with no apparent serious issue ("just a flesh wound") that they believe this is reality, where in fact even a FMJ (small hole in, small hole out) pistol round through that joint area is gonna be a major orthopedic issue.

    Listen, it's a bad shoot. Flail weapons are easily defeated unless wielded by an expert, and even then the disadvantages of such are definitional. I'm not going to waste bandwidth explaining the amount of training and experience needed for an individual be able to retain viability of such a weapon against multiple opponents but long story short, distance and timing are critical, once the opponent is inside the outer arc of that bicycle chain the weapon is useless and actually ties up the hand that holds it as long as it holds it. And I am talking empty hand, not Taser/Baton/OC. Combination thereof. OC first to deprive perp of clear vision, assisting in use of baton, etc.

    I stand by my initial statement to the effect of a person of lesser competence in such matters resorting to use of deadly force while ignoring INTERMEDIATE force measure which they ARE (theoretically) trained and equipped to utilize.

    I also stand by my statement to the effect that they are hiring a lot of the wrong people. They don't really want people of independent thought process or ability. People like that make them nervous. They value a "team player" for reasons past what is necessary for the job. They do not want anyone who's really been out in the world much either. Virgin grist for their mill as it were. VPD has said publicly that their ideal recruit is a recent University grad who has played team sports. There you have it.

    Bottom line, IN THIS CASE, VPD killed a guy who didn't need killing. Training/decision making/intermediate force ability and perhaps personal suitability issue. But at the same time, remember that if we replace that bike chain with a knife, the officer did everything right except that head shot. And in VPD's defense, IIRC the majority of their shootings do take place against a knife armed offender. 21 foot rule applies, end of discussion. Guy was off his meds? Oh well, unfortunate but not relevant to a shoot. 21 foot rule regardless.

  5. It should be noted here that video taken by civilian observers ultimately showed that the wounded Paul Boy was crawling on his hands when the final kill shot was made.

    Once more, video reveals the initial police story was wrong.


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