Peace Arch News

Police cleared in South Surrey self-inflicted shooting death

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An independent investigation into the death of a man who shot himself in a vehicle near a South Surrey intersection two months ago found no fault on the part of police officers.

A report on the incident released this morning (Feb. 28) by officials with the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. "concluded that there was no evidence that any police officer committed an offence related to this death."

"The evidence supports the conclusion that the involved officer took no action other than making a traffic stop based on information related to the licence plate on the van," the report authored by IIO Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal states.

The report did not name the deceased, however, the man was identified in January by officials with the B.C. Coroners Service as Abbotsford resident Prashant Jasuja.

According to the report, the 42-year-old died of a single gunshot injury to the head.

The incident occurred just after 12:30 a.m. Dec. 21, after an on-duty police officer observed a van with an obscured licence plate and indecipherable insurance decal. The officer began a vehicle check on the van near King George Boulevard and 24 Avenue. Shortly after the van stopped, the officer heard what he described as a "pop," the report states. The van then rolled across the highway and came to rest on the centre median.

A second officer arrived and the two officers approached the van, believing they were dealing with an intoxicated driver. They found the driver in medical distress suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He died later that afternoon.

Rosenthal notes that autopsy and toxicology reports on the man's death are still pending.

However, "the autopsy observations leave the cause of death beyond dispute," he writes.

"It is unlikely that the final autopsy report and classification of death would provide additional facts that would lead me to change my conclusions… the deceased's degree of sobriety or impairment by any substance is not relevant to the issue of whether or not an officer committed an offence."

IIO investigators recovered a .22-calibre revolver containing six empty casings from the van – evidence Rosenthal states "linked the deceased to an earlier shooting  that took place approximately 18 minutes prior to and approximately 12.5 kilometres from the vehicle stop."

Less than an hour before to the South Surrey incident, police responding to a report of shots fired near 127 Street and 63 Avenue found a 35-year-old woman with wounds to her hand and shoulder.

IIO officials confirmed last month that the same man was at the centre of both incidents.

The IIO was established last year to conduct investigations into on- and off-duty police-involved incidents that result in death or injury

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