THE Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) of the Ministry of Justice announced Monday that a charge of second degree murder has been approved against Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams in the death of Mehrdad Bayrami in connection with an on-duty incident on November 8, 2012.
A direct indictment was filed in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster and MacWilliams made an initial appearance on the matter and was released on a recognizance of bail with terms and conditions, and is next scheduled to appear in court on December 18.
The charge follows an investigation by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) into the shooting of Bayrami on a paved pathway near the Starlight Casino in New Westminster on November 8, 2012. The Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, Richard Rosenthal, forwarded a report to Crown Counsel (RTCC) to the Criminal Justice Branch on July 15, 2013.
Where the Chief Civilian Director determines, following an investigation, that an officer may have committed an offence, the IIO submits an RTCC to CJB. The Chief Civilian Director does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved or what charges CJB should consider.
Following receipt of the RTCC and an initial charge assessment review in July 2013, CJB concluded that additional information was required from the IIO before a fully informed charge assessment review could be completed. On July 29, 2013, the CJB requested additional information from the IIO.
Some of the information requested was not immediately available to the IIO and further investigative steps were needed. The additional information was subsequently provided to CJB by the IIO on July 18, 2014, and October 6, 2014.
Following a complete review of the available evidence conducted by senior Crown counsel, the CJB approved the charge.
Reacting to the charge, Delta Police in a statement said: “On November 8, 2012, the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response team responded to an incident occurring at the Starlight Casino. In response to the incident, Delta Police Department Constable Jordan MacWilliams, acting as a full member of the Emergency Response Team, discharged his firearm in response to the armed suspect. The suspect, Mehrdad Bayrami of Richmond, later died in hospital. Our thoughts are with Mr. Bayrami’s family.
“The Independent Investigations Office was called immediately to investigate the incident and their report was forwarded to Crown Counsel on July 12, 2013.”
Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford said: “I respect and understand the roles of Crown Counsel and the Independent Investigations Office. This incident occurred almost two years ago and, given the independent nature of the investigation, I have limited knowledge of the details regarding this matter. Also, considering the fact that this matter is now before the courts I am not in a position to make any comment relative to the charges against Cst. MacWilliams.”
According to news report at the time of the incident, the shooting took place after almost five hours of a standoff in the casino parking lot on the northeast corner of Lulu Island. Bayrami, 48, died several days after he was shot in the stomach while holding a weapon. CTV footage shows the moment when he was shot.