Three years and six months after a BC Highway Patrol Officer shot a man during an attempted arrest, the BC Prosecution Service has announced that he will face no charges.
The BC Prosecution Service released an overview of the 2019 incident, the findings of the Independent Investigations Office of BC, and the reasoning for why Crown Prosecution will not be pursuing charges, in order to “maintain public confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system.”
The document states that shortly after midnight on Dec. 20, 2019, Const. David Gauthier was conducting speed and traffic enforcement when he spotted a grey pickup truck with one headlight out speeding down Highway 97 in Kelowna.
Gauthier turned on his lights and sirens and began pursuing the truck, driven by Philip Hakim.
Hakim ignored the lights and sirens and continued down Highway 97 before turning onto Spall Road. At this time, Gauthier was told by dispatch that the truckdid not have a proper licence plate.
The truck then turned onto Highland Drive and Gauthier’s supervisor told him to stop the pursuit. Gauthier acknowledged the order and slowed his vehicle, shutting off his lights and siren, but did not stop following the truck.
Dispatch then asked Gauthier to confirm that he was no longer pursuing the truck.
“Yeah, I’ve stopped, we’re at a dead end here,” responded Gauthier. However, at the time, he was still following the truck.
The constable followed the truck until reaching a dead end on Highland Drive. He then reactivated his lights and sirens and attempted to block the truck from exiting the cul-de-sac.
The following interaction was recorded on a Watchcam video.
Gauthier exited his SUV and approached the vehicle with his firearm drawn and pointed at the occupants of the truck. Hakim was seated in the drivers seat and a woman was in the passenger seat.
The truck tires then began to turn towards the officer and Gauthier yelled “stop right there,” twice. The truck then accelerated out of the cul-de-sac, and Gauthier fired two shots at the vehicle as it drove away.
Then, the officer stated, over the radio, “10-4, shots fired, he tried to run me over.”
The truck was later found parked behind a business complex with a bullet hole through the driver’s side door, shattered driver and passenger rear door windows, and blood on the driver’s seat.
After the incident, Hakim had gone to the hospital for a gunshot wound. He had surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his right forearm, and told hospital staff that he had been robbed at gunpoint but did not want the police to be involved.
Hakim was later arrested and charged with flight from police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and assaulting a peace officer with a weapon.
Hakim told investigators that he did not pull over because he was not sure if Gauthier was a real police officer. The truck was also not insured.
Charges against Gauthier for dangerous driving during the pursuit and assault with a weapon causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, discharge of a firearm with intent, attempted murder and criminal negligence causing bodily harm were initially considered.
However, the investigation concluded that Gauthier was not negligent or dangerous while pursuing the truck and was acting in self defence when he fired the shots, thinking that he was going to be run over.
In 2021, Hakim filed a civil suit against Gauthier for the injury and subsequent lost wages due to lasting pain as a result of the gunshot wound.
The full statement from the BC Prosecution Service can be read at gov.bc.ca.