A Chilliwack man shot by an RCMP officer during an arrest near the Vedder River two years ago has filed a lawsuit against the officer, the Minister of Public safety and Solicitor General of B.C., and the Attorney General of Canada.
On Jan. 12, 2021, Chilliwack RCMP responded to a complaint from David Bardwell’s wife that the man was threatening her and had injured her.
Ms. Bardwell escaped and David Bardwell also left the property but continued to send “concerning messages and threats,” according to an RCMP press release.
That was shortly after 7 a.m. An hour-and-a-half later, several RCMP vehicles descended on the parking lot at the Vedder River Rotary Trail at Lickman Road.
“At the time, Mr. Bardwell was sitting in his parked vehicle smoking cigarettes and idly fiddling with a shish-kebab skewer,” according to his lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford on Jan. 11, 2023.
“Mr. Bardwell had the shish-kabab skewer in his car because he had used it to cook on a recent camping trip. The shish-kebab skewer was extremely lightweight and made entirely of one piece of thin (flattened) metal, approximately 12-14 inches long and 1/4 of an inch wide.”
Officers boxed in his vehicle and approached him.
“Police advise that the suspect reportedly had a weapon and during the course of the interaction the man was shot,” the RCMP said in a statement at the time.
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That weapon, Bardwell says, was the skewer. He exited his vehicle and put his hands in the air.
“One of the RCMP officers directed Mr. Bardwell to drop the shish-kebab skewer,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Mr. Bardwell, who was in acute mental health distress at the time, did not drop the skewer.”
He continued to stand with his hands and he said “very little” to the RCMP officers.
“At no point did Mr. Bardwell threaten to harm any of the officers, himself or anyone else, nor did he ever become aggressive in any manner.”
He was asked again to drop the skewer but did not. The lawsuit alleges that then “suddenly and without warning,” Const. Kevin Biagioni fired multiple bullets in rapid succession, hitting Baldwell in the torso twice.
“Const. Biagioni intentionally shot Mr. Bardwell without justification or excuse, knowing it could cause serious bodily harm or death,” the lawsuit alleges. “In the alternative, he recklessly or negligently shot Mr. Bardwell and was reckless as to whether it could cause serious bodily harm or death.”
Critically injured, Bardwell dropped to the ground at which time a police service dog handler released the dog, which bit Bardwell in the upper back area “and began dragging and mauling him on the ground.”
“While the police service dog maintained its bite on Mr. Bardwell, several RCMP officers approached him, rolled him over and placed him in handcuffs.”
Bardwell alleges he was pleading with the officers to get the dog to release its bite, which was eventually done.
After being brought to hospital, he says he was placed in a medically induced coma for four days and underwent multiple surgeries. He says he suffered serious injuries, including damage to his spleen, stomach, left lung, and heart, in addition to psychological injury “including significant distress, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.”
In June of 2021, Bardwell said he moved to Winnipeg “in order to get away from the Chilliwack RCMP who… he had come to fear.”
Also in June, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C., which investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, quickly took over the file.
IIO forwarded the file to Crown counsel recommending charges. Biagioni is charged with discharging a firearm with intent, aggravated assault, and careless use of a firearm in connection with the arrest of Bardwell.
Biagioni’s case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference in Surrey provincial court on March 1.
As for Bardwell, he was convicted of assault by choking, assault causing bodily harm, and two counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, in addition to eight criminal code breaches of release over several dates ranging from Aug. 27, 2021 to Sept. 13, 2022, in connection with the Jan. 12 incident involving his wife.
He is scheduled for sentencing on all 12 counts on March 17 in provincial court in Chilliwack.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The Progress is waiting to hear back from the government agencies named in the lawsuit to find out if they have responded.
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