A Delta police officer has received the province’s top honour for his role in rescuing a woman during an armed hostage situation in 2012.
Const. Jordan MacWilliams was one of 42 police officers to receive the Valorous Service Award, the highest award for a police officer in B.C., at this year’s Police Honours Night, held on Nov. 16 at Government House in Victoria.
The annual event recognizes members of the RCMP and B.C.’s independent police services who have performed an exemplary service for British Columbians. According to a DPD press release, the Valorous Service Award is given to individuals who perform “an act of exceptional valour in the face of extreme danger.”
MacWilliams and New Westminster Police constables Sanjay Kumar and Cliff Kusch received the award for their part in responding to an armed hostage situation in New Westminster on the morning of Nov. 8, 2012, when Mehrdad Bayrami, 48, of Richmond allegedly took his ex-girlfriend Tetiana Pilsina hostage at gunpoint outside the Starlight Casino.
The three officers responded as part of the municipal integrated emergency response team (MIERT) and put their lives at risk to bring the Pilsina to safety, as Bayrami had reportedly already fired his weapon and was taunting police to shoot him.
New Westminster Police constables Jennifer Deacon, Bernie Florido, Jackie Frost, Gerald Lau and Darryl Newman, as well as two officers whose names were withheld, were also given awards of meritorious service at the ceremony for their roles during the crisis negotiation.
The stand-off ended after five hours, when Bayrami allegedly pointed his weapon at police and MacWilliams shot him in the abdomen. Bayrami was taken to Royal Columbian Hospital where he died 10 days later.
The incident led to legal troubles for MacWilliams. In October, 2014 he was charged with second degree murder relating to Bayrami’s death and sued by Bayrami’s daughter Nousha in November of that year. However, the murder charge stayed in July 2015 and the civil lawsuit was dropped five and a half months after that.
An inquest into the incident by the B.C. Coroners Service in February 2016 came back with 16 recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents from in the future, including several points dealing with improving mental health services.
MacWilliams was one of 10 Delta police officers honoured at the Nov. 16 ceremony, and the only DPD member this year to receive the Valorous Service Award.
Const. Sonny Buttar received the Meritorious Service Award for his part in investigating over 20 arson and shooting attacks on homes and vehicles belonging to people associated with the Justice Institute of BC between April 2011 and January 2012.
According to a DPD press release, Buttar played a key role on the investigative team in both a managerial and operational capacity, and spearheaded a comprehensive arrest plan that led to the successful arrest of both suspects involved.
Sergeant Jill Long and constables Martin Levangie, Scott Formby, Robb Semler, Ken Kirk, Sean Cessford, Chris Ward, Gwen Vaughan-Smith and one officer from another police service whose name was withheld also received the Meritorious Service Award for their investigation of a significant dial-a-dope operation.
According to a DPD release, in August, 2015 police received information about possible drug activity in South Delta. Members of the Delta Police drug section embarked on a months-long investigation that led to the execution of search warrants across the Lower Mainland.
The investigation concluded with the seizure of $1.2million worth of drugs valued, $1.5 million in cash, nine firearms and the dismantling of one of the largest fentanyl labs seen in Canada at that time. Five people were arrested and charged, and the matter is still before the courts.
-with files from Sheila Reynolds, Black Press staff