A Delta Police officer will no longer face a second-degree murder charge for shooting a man during an armed standoff outside a New Westminster casino in 2012.
The Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) announced Tuesday that a stay of proceedings had been entered, saying evidence in the case against Const. Jordan MacWilliams “no longer satisfies its charge approval standard for the continued prosecution.”
Mehrdad Bayrami, 48, was shot on Nov. 8, 2012 outside Starlight Casino. Early that day, he had accosted his ex-girlfriend, confining her for more than an hour, holding a gun to his own head for much of the time. Bayrami was under a court order to have no contact with the woman.
The woman was eventually escorted to safety by police, and a three-and-a-half standoff ensued with Bayrami.
MacWilliams, part of the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team (MIERT), was among about 27 officers at the scene, who repeatedly told Bayrami to put down his weapon and surrender. As Bayrami walked around waving his gun, MacWilliams shot him in the abdomen. He died later in hospital.
The officer did not deny shooting the victim, but in a statement to the CJB through his lawyer, said he felt justified using lethal force because “if he didn’t stop [Mr. Bayrami] immediately, the suspect would shoot Cst. MacWilliams or one of his team members.”
MacWilliams was charged in October last year after an investigation by the province’s Independent Investigation Office (IIO). Since then, the CJB said, Crown Counsel obtained additional evidence from witness interviews and further information from the IIO and other sources. As a result, Crown undertook a “comprehensive file review” and determined the evidence no longer supported the murder charge or any other criminal offence.
In April, the woman held hostage by Bayrami spoke out in support of MacWilliams, calling he and the officers involved in the incident that day heroes.
Delta Police said Tuesday the decision to stay the charge was a relief not only to MacWilliams and his family, but to all police officers.
“As police officers, we are called upon to make instantaneous, life-or-death decisions,” said Chief Const. Neil Dubord. “We sometimes encounter violent situations that force us to react in a manner to protect the public and ourselves. Police officers across Canada continue to sign on to this job knowing that we will face risk and the resulting scrutiny.”
There is a pending civic suit against MacWilliams, the Corporation of Delta filed by Bayrami’s daughter last year.