KELOWNA - Shadwyn Nelson could feel the bullet bouncing around inside him after it shot through his shoulder. The bullet hit his left lung, making every breath a struggle. Blood pooled out of his back as he gasped for air on the forest floor. An ambulance transported him to a hospital, where he remained on life support for a week.
"I almost died," he said.
Nelson, 41, was shot by a police officer nearly two years ago during a confrontation at his illegal campsite in Duck Lake Road. On Dec. 6, 2018, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. ruled the officer acted in reasonable self-defense by shooting Nelson. It's taken since then for iNFOnews.ca to connect with Nelson, who has since moved to the Lower Mainland.
Nelson claims he was no threat to the officer and that she shouldn't have shot him.
"She didn't give me a chance," he said.
On Aug. 3, 2017, Nelson and several other homeless campers had been staying at a site on Duck Lake Road for eight months. Earlier that day a spider bit him and caused a severe reaction, he said. He went to a hospital and had tissue cut from his knee. He received antibiotics and returned to his campsite for lunch. He used an axe handle as a makeshift crutch because of his injured leg.
Nelson said he was inside his tent when he heard a police officer and a bylaw officer say they were outside due to complaints of an illegal fire. Nelson said he hadn't used his fire pit for months.
When Nelson poked his head out of his tent, he was stunned to see the police officer's gun aimed at him. Both officers were on a hill roughly 20 feet away from him. There was a big spruce tree between Nelson and the officers, obscuring the view, he said.
Nelson, who claimed not to have any drugs or weapons at the campsite, said he emerged from the tent and said, "Please don't shoot me." Still holding his axe handle, he rounded the tree and before he knew what happened, the officer shot him in the shoulder. He fell to the ground, bleeding. He was later told the bullet nearly hit his spine.
"I couldn't breathe," he said. "I could've been paralyzed."
Nelson expressed his gratitude to the bylaw officer for calling an ambulance for him, but he didn't mince words about his anger with the police officer for shooting him.
"I don't like cops," he said. "They're an organized gang."
Nelson was transported to Kelowna General Hospital for treatment to his injuries. Once he recovered, he was charged with assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer, and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He remained in custody until May 30 when he pled guilty to two charges. The charge of assaulting a peace officer was stayed.
Nelson said he planned to file a lawsuit against the officer who shot him, but his extended stay in custody derailed his plans and he missed the time period to file the suit. Nelson was furious to spend time in custody after being shot, only to be denied a chance to have his lawsuit heard. It was the capstone to a near year-long ordeal that left Nelson with bitter feelings, criminal charges, and a litany of physical and mental problems.
Nelson, who now lives in Richmond, says the injuries from the shooting go beyond body wounds. He struggles to walk long distances due to his damaged lungs and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and episodes where he blacks out. He says he also experiences seizures and an assortment of body pain which has made his life difficult for the past year.
"It cost me a job, a relationship," he said. "It's very upsetting."
During a phone interview with iNFOnews, Nelson expressed his frustration over the shooting, often using profanities. He would like to see the police officer who shot him to be charged with attempted murder, although this is highly unlikely after the Investigation Office's verdict that the officer made the right choice in the incident.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.