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Handgun suddenly appearing before B.C. police shooting 'ludicrous': Crown

"He did the ultimate threatening act of pointing a loaded firearm at a police officer."
A Vancouver provincial court hearing room.

A man shot after an East Vancouver reverse car chase said a .357 magnum gun suddenly appeared in his van before he pointed it at the officer who shot him.

Before the constable fired, Robin Landrew Pryce had already shot at police dog Jade

The 53-year-old pleaded guilty to using a firearm to commit an indictable offence, dangerous driving and assaulting a Vancouver Police Department officer.

“You risked other people’s lives in the most serious of ways,” Vancouver provincial court Judge Patrick Doherty said as he sentenced Pryce to five years in prison less 16 months credit for time already served.

“The facts are troubling, alarming,” Doherty said. “He did the ultimate threatening act of pointing a loaded firearm at a police officer.”

After viewing videos of the events, the judge said, “they’re horrific to watch.”

The court heard the situation began July 16 when police received a report of a possible break and enter in progress at 323 Alexander St. in the Downtown Eastside involving a white van.

The van was spotted with a balding man in his forties or fifties, later identified as Pryce, at the wheel.

Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe KC told Doherty police attempted to pull the van over but it did not stop, picking up speed as it moved east on East Hastings. The chase was called off when the van turned right onto Clark Drive.

However, the van was soon spotted and Const. Jesse Schellenberg attempted to stop it on East 2nd Ave. The officer blocked the van leaving only reversing as an option.

And that’s what happened. The van reversed back down the street and began swerving, hitting parked cars and doing $27,000 in damage.

At one point, a cyclist had to jump out of the van’s way.

Now, Schellenberg was starting to fear for the safety of pedestrians in the area, the court heard.

The van then shot into an alley, hit a retaining wall and struck another car containing two people. Schellenberg hit the van, blocking its movement.

Other police officers arrived and further blocked the van.

Schellenberg went to the van with the dog and told Pryce he was under arrest. At that point, McCabe said, Pryce reached behind him and produced the fully loaded .357 magnum.

Schellenberg jumped out of the way but Jade went for Pryce’s foot.

“Pryce turned the gun on the dog and fired,” McCabe said. “Thankfully, it just grazed the dog’s ear causing a slight burn.”

Schellenberg then fired, hitting Pryce three times in the abdomen, thigh and right forearm.

McCabe said the van was borrowed and Pryce did not have a valid driver’s licence.

Court heard Pryce had a dog with him in the van, which also contained “a copious amount of drugs,” including fentanyl and crystal methamphetamine.”

The judged said he sees more and more cases of people using loaded firearms in offences.

“He reverted to a position that had absolutely no regard for human life and recklessly put at risk people who use the streets of East Vancouver,” Doherty said.

The defence

Pryce’s lawyer, David Forsythe, told the judge Pryce had nothing to do with a break and enter. “It would seem unusual to take a dog to a break and enter,” he said.

And, when Schellenberg’s cruiser hit the van, “it dislodged something from behind the dashboard,” he said.

“The fact that it’s a gun that is dislodged is not known to (Pryce) until seconds before the incident,” Forsythe said. “It is the first time he laid eyes on the loaded .357 magnum.”

He said the gun discharged after which Pryce raised his hands.

“He had the chance to shoot the officer and he did not take that choice,” Forsythe said. “He aimed instead at an attacking dog.”

McCabe called the story “ludicrous” citing video of the incident played in court.

“His hands are never in the air,” McCabe said, noting the gun remained in his hands until released due to the shots fired.

The defence said the van was borrowed from a man, who said many people used it. The owner said he frequently found drugs not belonging to Pryce in the vehicle.

Forsythe presented many references for his client, who sat in court in a wheelchair, his arm in a sling, praising him for his kindness and generosity, particularly to those facing challenges.