The officer was neither charged nor disciplined after the shooting in August 2007, mainly because there were too many conflicting witness accounts and a final investigation ruled Const. Lee Chipperfield was "inattentionally blind."
But 49 seconds of a shaky, dark video shot by a Winnipeg tourist may change that outcome and has forced the Vancouver Police Department and the B.C. government to ask the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team to investigate.
The BC Coroners Service also announced it will review its investigation more than a year after a coroners' jury made recommendations in how to prevent another such shooting by police.
"I still, after five years, don't understand what happened," said Danny Antonucci, an animator who worked with Boyd and considered him a friend.
"That video is heart-breaking. To see Paul crawling on his hands and knees. . ."
Antonnucci said his heart goes out to Boyd's family.
Boyd was shot after police responded to 911 calls and were confronted by a man swinging a bike chain. Chipperfield testified at the inquest that he believed Boyd was still armed when he fired the fatal shot to Boyd's head.
But the video, released to the media this week, appears to show Boyd was no longer holding the bike chain when he was killed.
Instead, it shows a police officer next to Boyd bending down and picking up the chain as Boyd — who was already injured by several police bullets — crawled across the street.
A vehicle blocked the camera's view of Boyd in the seconds before he is shot, but the officers confronting him are in full view and are seen backing away from the man.
The camera jerked to the sky as a shot is heard, someone next to the cameraman swore in German and the camera refocused on a lone officer standing in shooting position, arms outstretched with his gun held in both hands.
David Eby, executive director of B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the video proves what his organization has been saying all along: Boyd wasn't a threat to police when he was killed.
"There is something about seeing a man crawling across the street to be shot in the head surrounded by police officers when he's fully disarmed, compared to just reading that on a piece of paper," Eby said in an interview.
Chipperfield was never charged, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch concluded there wasn't enough evidence to establish that the officer's use of force was excessive.
The province's police watchdog later said there were too many conflicting accounts of what happened to conclude whether the officer used excessive force.
Eby said the video now indicates which eyewitnesses should be believed.
He also said the conclusion from the Office of the B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner that Chipperfield's intense emotional reaction to the altercation rendered him "inattentionally blind," can't be allowed to stand.
"If you accept that explanation there's no scenario in which a police officer could ever be held accountable for lethal use of force," Eby said.
Boyd, 39, had a successful career as an animator.
But he was also bipolar, and on the night of Aug. 13, 2007, police were called to several 911 complaints of a male causing a disturbance and assaulting a man on the city's busy south Granville Street.
Witnesses said Boyd was swinging a bike chain with a lock attached and hit one of the officers several times. Another officer tried to bring him down with a baton.
The coroners' inquest heard Chipperfield shot Boyd even after another officer told Chipperfield to hold fire, and disarmed the man.
Chipperfield told the inquest he believed Boyd was still armed, and the Police Complaint Commission found too many conflicting versions to proceed with charges.
British Columbia's Attorney General Shirley Bond asked the Alberta independent investigation team to get involved hours after the video was made public this week.
"I can't comment or be critical of the processes in the past. What I can say to the (Boyd) family is that upon seeing the new information ... I took immediate action to ensure there is an independent review."
The Vancouver Police Department issued a short statement referring comment to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.
Likewise, Stan Lowe, B.C.'s police complaint commissioner, said no comment will be coming from his office while the new investigation is underway.
Lowe said in a statement he met with Clifton Purvis, the director of the Alberta team, and Purvis agreed to provide Lowe's office with his findings when the probe is completed.
"I have seen the video and support the decision to re-open the investigation of this tragic incident," Lowe said in an interview.
Purvis said in an interview that he was putting his entire Calgary team, with a full-time staff of nine members, onto the investigation.
While he didn't want to prejudge the investigation, he agreed the video had the potential to shore up witness accounts and discount others.
"At first blush, it sounds fairly simple — you just consider the video tape — but you really have to look at the initial investigation and try and determine what impact the video would have had on the investigation had it been available back then."
Purvis said the investigation would likely take months.
"While I get that its really important for everybody involved for this to be done quickly, it's really more important we do it thoroughly."
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