September 23, 2022

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The man who died Monday morning after being shot multiple times with a bean bag gun by Vancouver police has been identified by family members as 42-year-old father of seven, Chris Amyotte of Winnipeg.

Amyotte’s cousin Samantha Wilson told CBC that he was in Vancouver visiting family, including two of his children.

Wilson said according to eyewitnesses, including another cousin, Amyotte was distraught after being sprayed with mace in the moments before police arrived on the scene.

“He was asking bystanders for help, to call 911. I know that when help did arrive he was non-compliant with their request to lie on the ground and shots were fired and he lost his life,” she said.

“He was an unarmed man basically begging for help. He was in obvious pain from the mace that was all over his clothes and into his skin. One eyewitness shared that he tried to use water to lessen the effects of the bear mace that was on him and it actually made it worse,” she said.

Witnesses told CBC that Amyotte had removed his clothes and was dousing himself in milk taken from a convenience store in the 300-block of East Hastings Street, right before he was shot and died on the sidewalk.

The Vancouver Police Department has said little about the incident other than to release a brief statement that did not mention the shooting. It read in part: “Following an interaction with police, the man was taken into custody. He then went into medical distress and lost consciousness. The man died at the scene despite life-saving attempts.”

On Tuesday, a VPD spokesman confirmed police shot the man with a bean bag gun.

Chris Amyotte in 2016 a photo posted on Facebook. (Facebook)

Wilson said Amyotte was a dedicated father and husband whose family comes from the Rolling River Ojibwe First Nation in Manitoba.

 “My cousin Chris was very outgoing. He was the kind of person you could expect to show up at a family function with all the jokes. The kind of guy to break the ice with everyone and start teasing everyone,” she said.

IIO investigation backlog

An investigation into the shooting is now in the hands of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), B.C.’s civilian-led police oversight agency. 

IIO’s mandate is to “conduct investigations into police-related incidents resulting in death or serious harm to determine whether any officer may have committed an offence.”

An IIO spokeswoman could not say how long the investigation will take. 

“We do not have an expected timeline to complete this or any other investigation as many complex factors play a role in the length of time it will take,” said Rebecca Whalen, IIO media and communications liaison.

Whalen said IIO investigations are taking longer to conclude and that the organization is seeing a “significant increase” in new incidents. 

Since 2019, the average number of days the IIO spends on an investigation rose from 46 to 68 days due to increasing workload and the “inability to attract and recruit a full complement of investigators,” according to the organization’s latest annual report.

 

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