A heart-wrenching video showing a Vancouver police officer appearing to shoot a mentally ill man as he crawls on his hands and knees has set off a new investigation, five years after Paul Boyd was killed.
"I still, after five years, do not understand this. And I don't understand why there hasn't been some sort of justice brought upon this," said Danny Antonucci, an animator who worked side-by-side with Paul Boyd and considered him a friend, according the Regina Leader-Post.
"That video is absolutely heart-breaking. It's heart-breaking. To see Paul crawling on his hands and knees and to have some ignorant person shoot a gun into his head, I mean, it's just insane."
The new video, captured by Andreas Bergen, a tourist from Winnipeg, who was visiting Vancouver with friends, begins with the seventh bullet being fired into Boyd's body, CTV reports.
The 39-year-old, who had a successful career as an animator, also had bipolar disorder and had not taken his medication that day.
Police had been called to the busy intersection the evening of Aug. 13, 2007, after a 911 call and were confronted by Boyd, who witnesses said was swinging a bike chain.
Boyd appears to drop his weapon and begins making guttural sounds. He then starts crawling on all fours towards a group of constables until a stopped car obscures the view.
Const. Lee Chipperfield, who was the only officer to shoot at him — the fatal bullet striking Boyd in the head — was neither charged nor disciplined after the shooting in August 2007.
Chipperfield, who shot Boyd eight times in a span of 80 seconds, testified at a coroner's inquest that he believed Boyd was still armed.
Three police officers told the inquest they still felt threatened by Boyd after he was shot and crawling towards the cops, 570News reports.
In March 2012, B.C.'s police complaint commissioner issued a report, concluding there wasn't "clear, convincing and cogent evidence … that Chipperfield used unnecessary force or excessive force during his incident."
And although Chipperfield told investigators he thought Boyd was on his feet when he fired the fatal shot, a psychologist who was consulted by the police complaint commissioner said the officer misread the situation — because the stress of the incident rendered the officer "inattentionally blind."
But 49 seconds of a shaky, dark video, shot by Bergen who didn't think his video was valuable because there were dozens of witnesses closer to the scene than he was, may change that outcome. Since it appears to show Boyd was no longer holding the bike chain when he was killed.
Instead, it shows a police officer next to Boyd bending down and picking up the chain before the final, deadly, shot was fired.
The disturbing video is the only one known to be recorded of the incident.
Not holding breath for real justice
Boyd's father David told CTV News that watching the video produced "very little emotional reaction" because he had already come to believe the version of events it depicts.
"It was a bit more visceral of course seeing it, but I had already gone through that in my mind."
"I imagined Paul crawling," he said in an interview. "But the fact he was crawling was disturbing, that they would still be feeling that a man crawling towards them was a threat."
He also said he's not holding his breath that it will for lead to real justice or accountability in his son's death.
"I never hope very much. I've seen what's happened over the past five years. The process drags out and it's forgotten … I've seen nothing come of it so far, and I frankly don't expect much to come of it now. I think the only difference now is the public may respond differently and realize what a travesty it was."
"Whether that makes any difference, I don't know."
Essential public has confidence in police
B.C.’s Attorney General, Shirley Bond, asked the Alberta independent investigation team to get involved hours after the video was made public this week, saying it is essential the public has confidence in the police.
"This is a very sensitive case, which is why we have asked the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), an experienced, independent investigative agency, to consider the case in light of new information," says Bond in a written statement, according to News1130.
"I know that the Vancouver Police Department agrees that this matter be investigated externally and will fully co-operate with the ASIRT investigation."
BC Civil Liberties Association Executive Director David Eby questions just how independent the investigation will be. He has concerns about ASIRT being asked to review the video.
On its website, ASIRT says it is led by a civilian director and is made up of several other civilian members — and nine sworn police officers.
"We do certainly have concerns that the police have been asked to review [this]...the ASIRT team is a team of police officers, and we don't have a lot of confidence in police self-investigation in BC," explains Eby. "But that said, it is certainly a step forward."
And how did the Vancouver Police Department react when asked if the video was significant to the August 2007 incident?
CBC news says Vancouver police declined to comment. This seems reasonable considering the Vancouver Police Department "turned down an invitation to see the video."
The officer who shot Boyd remains on active duty with Vancouver police.