The Delta police officer charged with second-degree murder after a police standoff shooting claims the victim posed a threat to him and other officers.
In his response to the civil suit launched last year by the victim’s daughter, Const. Jordan MacWilliams is claiming he fired his rifle after the victim, Mehrdad Bayrami, pointed his gun at him and other officers.
MacWilliams, who was a member of the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team at the time, was one of several police officers that responded to the Starlight Casino at around 6 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2012 after calls about a domestic disturbance and an armed man. The standoff lasted for five hours before the shooting occurred.
In her lawsuit, Bayrami’s daughter Nousha Mayrami claims the officer shot her father Bayrami “suddenly, without warning or justification” as he was walking backwards away from the police officers with his arms at his sides.
In his response to the lawsuit, MacWilliams claims that, after getting the hostage out of harms way, officers set up a 20-metre containment area around Bayrami. The perimeter included officers positioned with less lethal measures with MacWilliams assigned to the role of lethal overwatch for his team. In that role, it was his responsibility to provide cover for the other officers and to use necessary force if a threat of death of grievous bodily harm was posed.
According to MacWilliams’ statement, after a considerable amount of time standing in the same spot, Bayrami began walking toward the officers and he moved outside of the 20-metre containment area. The commanding officer then ordered the officers to use the less lethal measures, which consisted of a noise and flash diversionary device and a anti-riot weapon that fires non-lethal rounds. It was at this time, MacWilliams claims, that Mayrami leveled his gun at him and the other officers with his finger on or near the trigger. Fearing that one or more of the officers could be shot, MacWilliams made the decision to fire his rifle.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) launched an investigation following the shooting and Bayrami’s death 10 days later. In 2013, chief civilian director Richard Rosenthal forwarded a report to Crown counsel. As a result of the report, last November the Crown announced a second-degree murder charge against MacWilliams.
Just this week, Bayrami’s hostage came forward hailing MacWilliams as her hero and saying he should not be facing charges.
In an interview with The Province, Tetiana Piltsina called the charges unfair.
“This young policeman has to be released from all these accusations,” she said, speaking for the first time since the incident.
Piltsina also said she was never interviewed by police or the IIO following the standoff and shooting, and even tried to contact them to give her perspective on what happened that morning.
Neither the IIO nor the Crown would comment on who had been interviewed or not.
Piltsina, who had known Bayrami for years — the two had worked together and dated in the past — said he was unstable and she feared for her life at that time.
Before Piltsina was able to break free from Bayrami, he kept talking to her, she said.
“He was just saying awful things. He said to me: ‘I don’t want to go to prison ... I know that I’m going in a plastic bag from here,’” she said. “What he meant is he was probably ready to die.”
- with files from The Province