Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

IIO investigation flawed but cop still charged with murder

with 17 comments

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), who investigated the police shooting of 48-yr.-old Mehrdad Bayrami on Nov. 8th, 2012 at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster likely didn’t know that Bayrami knew he was going to die that day, whether by his own hand or ‘suicide by cop.’

Bayrami laid in wait for a woman who was employed at the Casino and when she arrived, he kidnapped her at gunpoint. She fought back and he fired his weapon three times grazing the woman twice, once in the head and once on her back.  He then dragged her nearly 500 metres toward the highway at the casino entrance. There he was met by New Westminster police who were responding to a 9-1-1 call from casino security who had witnessed the whole event on CCTV.

NWPD contained the armed assailant who still held his female hostage and called for the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team (MIERT). A five-hour stand-off ensued which only ended when Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams, a member of the MIERT, fired one shot.

MacWilliams was designated ‘lethal’ in his position as the covering sniper officer while the designated ‘non-lethal’ officers broke cover with ARWEN guns which fire so-called ‘plastic bullets.’ MacWilliams fired the lethal shot when Bayrami pointed his weapon at police. It all happened very fast in real time. And yet the IIO has charged this officer with second degree murder for doing his job.

But, in doing their investigation they didn’t know that Bayrami intended to die that fateful morning. Why not you might ask? Because they never interviewed the woman at the centre of all of this, the hostage.

Tetiana Piltsina, who at the time was a supervisor at the casino and the woman who was attacked, shot at and kidnapped by Bayrami told me in an extended interview what happened that morning from her viewpoint.

She also told me what he said to her as the police held him in containment. “When we were standing there close to the highway, he said to me, I am going to leave here in a plastic bag, I am not going to jail.”

Shortly thereafter, MacWilliams and two of his colleagues affected a rescue of Piltsina when she pushed away and created some separation between herself and Bayrami. MacWilliams and New Westminster Cst. Cliff Kusch  instinctively and courageously broke cover and positioned themselves between Bayrami and Piltsina with their weapons pointed directly at Bayrami. Another officer, Cst. Mo Parry of Delta PD, spirited her to safety and MacWilliams and Kusch withdrew back to cover.

The stand-off continued for several more hours as the MIERT tried everything from negotiators to the non-lethal attempt to disarm Bayrami using the ARWEN guns. It still ended with the fatal shot fired by MacWilliams when Bayrami pointed his weapon at police.

The statement made by Bayrami to Piltsina is critical. It shows the state of mind of Bayrami and corroborates what MacWilliams said in his statement that he fired because the suspect pointed his weapon at police as the ARWEN operators fired their weapons – projectiles which missed by the way.

But the IIO never got that information because they never interviewed Piltsina. And Crown, who approved the charge of murder, never got the information either and for the same reason.

It’s stunning really. When she heard from friends that MacWilliams had been charged she was outraged. She went to Delta PD headquarters and spoke to a police officer at the front counter. She said, “I went to the Delta police to see how I could help. It’s not right that he was charged. He was just doing his job. The policeman was trying to defend me.”

She left her name and number with that officer who gave the info to Chief Jim Cessford. He called the head of the IIO, Richard Rosenthal, and suggested, politely I’m sure, that Rosenthal have one of his investigators contact the woman.

I asked if the IIO had called her. Apparently even after the Cessford call they did not. Said Piltsina, “I called them. I called them the day I went to Delta police. They promised that someone would be in touch with me but I haven’t heard from them.”

Had the IIO actually done their job, they would have discovered that Bayrami had been stalking Piltsina for three months. He was calling her upwards of 60 times a day. She told me about him installing a GPS locator on her car and how, one day, when she got into her car she found a knife on her seat.

The Richmond RCMP were investigating the file as criminal harassment and Bayrami had been arrested three times as a result, the last time he was held for five days and released just days prior to that fateful day in November.

Piltsina has been through hell since the stalking started. It didn’t end with Bayrami’s death. She is still trying to come to grips with everything and feels guilty that MacWilliams has been charged with murder after saving her life. “Just because of me that guy is charged with murder.”

“That young boy, he doesn’t deserve it all, that’s awful,” she said. “My whole family is for this policeman, it’s a joke what is happening to him.”

Awful indeed. Made worse because the IIO did an incompetent investigation. And that is on Rosenthal.

Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

April 6, 2015 at 2:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

17 Responses

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  1. Sadly, this sounds so familiar to me…particularly the withholding of a witness statement in order to lay a charge against MacWilliams. It is a travesty, and more than inept. I hope and pray that Cst. MacWilliams and his family stay strong and continue to stand upright. Sadly, regardless of the outcome, the damage inflicted will never go away. His family has been, and will continue to be in for an emotional roller coaster for years to come… Having said that, with the right attitude and fortitude, things will get better. Maybe when the proceedings are all done, a civil lawsuit against those who did the investigation might be warranted in order to bring about the change needed so this never occurs again.

    Bob Eden

    April 6, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    • I think that another group of investigator should be assigned to review the facts and if that were done I feel there never should have been any charges in this incident. Dan Kristjanson a proud retired policeman from Vancouver.

      Dan Kristjanson

      April 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm

  2. My heart goes out to Jordan and his family.
    Shame on Susan Anton. This must be fixed with a big apology attached to it.

    Carol

    April 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

  3. I have followed this case for a long time now. I cannot believe this so called investigative body, the IIO, is allowed to continue to investigate this case. Rumour here in UK is that they botched their only other large investigation. Why then let them continue unsupervised (by certainly a senior politician or judge). Surely the interview of the key witness in this case should have been paramount in their investigation.
    Had this happened here in UK, then Constable Jordan MacWilliams and his colleagues would probably have been given the Queen’s Police Medal for bravery. In the unlikely event that the initial investigation had questioned his motives – then no doubt this officer would have been exonerated. If there is any justice in BC at all, Constable Jordan MacWilliams should, without doubt, be in line for a hefty compensation claim. I sincerely hope that Constable Jordan MacWilliams will eventually be well compensated for this unwarranted besmirching of his reputation, and career record. I fervently hope that JUSTICE will prevail and the members of IIO are never allowed to sit in a position of authority or trust ever again. If the investigative bodies of BC learn nothing else from this debacle, it is that the first rule of a good investigation is to INTERVIEW ALL WITNESSES and make copious notes of what they witness. Above all they should keep other bodies involved in the loop.

    Doreen Porter

    April 7, 2015 at 11:10 am

    • Had this happened in the parliament buildings in Ottawa, he would have been made the new ambassador to Ireland. But then the lives of politicians must be worth more than the lives of us common folk!

      ikscouse

      April 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm

  4. I can’t find an account of the deceased pointing his gun at the officers. Can you provide a link? The province reported that he had his arms by his side and was walking away, but they didn’t say who said that either.
    http://www.theprovince.com/touch/story.html?id=10377998

    Dale

    April 7, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    • It hasn’t been reported other than in my writings. I have several sources who were there.

      Leo Knight

      April 7, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      • Is there no video footage of what happened? I find it unlikely that after a five hour standoff the police and news outlets weren’t setup and video taping the events!

        Jason

        April 7, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      • I still don’t get what the murder charge was based on. Who did they talk to?

        Chaster

        April 9, 2015 at 5:09 pm

  5. Excellent work Leo, MacWilliams does not deserve this for simply going to work and protecting our community. Shame on the IIO and Provincial Crown for selectively avoiding available evidence.

    Roscoe_Rules

    April 7, 2015 at 3:38 pm

  6. All cops want to do is go home in one piece at the end of their shift along with the citizens they protect. This guy (Bayrami) didn’t want to go home and so with suicide by cop he got his wish. Officer MacWilliams was doing his job. Drop the stupid charges and give him a medal.

    James

    April 7, 2015 at 3:44 pm

  7. Yes, there is video. Specifically, video seized from CTV news, Air One video and video from the camera on the robot used in negation attempts. The video from the Casino which captured the kidnapping and the shooting was taken by NWPD for their investigation as well as the Coroner’s office for theirs. IIO never asked for that video.

    Leo Knight

    April 7, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    • Leo. It would appear that Rosenthal is basing his case on the civil suit brought by the daughter. “His hands were down and he was walking backwards” (Might not be exact) But was she there? Do not remember the CTV news program mentioning that family members were present.

      ikscouse

      April 8, 2015 at 4:00 am

  8. Makes you wonder who’s agenda is being served here? Definitely not the publics agenda. Almost looks like someone in IIO or the Crown has it in for Cst MacWilliams or there is a massive cover up for total incompetence and a botched investigation. Scary though that the Crown would okay this charge…

    Cindy Seward

    April 8, 2015 at 4:07 am

  9. […] frustrations were clearly articulated by Crime & Punishment author Leo Knight who predicted the case would collapse before it ever […]

  10. […] frustrations were clearly articulated by Crime & Punishment author Leo Knight who predicted the case would collapse before it ever […]


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