For a small town detachment the Terrace, BC, RCMP have gained some infamy for violence against civilians, including civilian deaths. On August 21, 2016 Nicolas Allan Jeppesen (29) died after being tased by officers of the Terrace RCMP outside the town’s Mills Memorial Hospital. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the body that reviews police violence involving civilians, is investigating the RCMP involvement in Jeppesen’s death but few details have been provided to the public. The BC Coroner’s Service, which has a broader mandate for investigation, is also investigating.
What has been reported is that in the early afternoon of August 21, RCMP officers were called to the hospital following a report of a man carrying an axe and a possibility that he might do harm to himself. There has been no report that he posed a threat to anyone else. The man was reportedly seen near the area of the hospital’s mental health ward. Upon encountering Jeppesen RCMP used a Taser, a conducted energy weapon, to subdue the man. During the intervention by police the victim received undisclosed injuries, through undisclosed means, from which he died after being taken inside the hospital.
Josh Paterson of the BC Civil Liberties Association notes the concerns around fatalities associated with the use of Tasers by police. In his words:
“In general we’ve had lots of concerns about the use of conducted energy weapons, the reliability of conductive energy weapons, the safety of them. We understand that it’s a good thing for police to be turning to less lethal force options … but we’ve seen numerous incidents around North America that Tasers don’t end up always being non-lethal force.” (quoted in Nichols 2016)
There have so far been no independent reports offering information beyond what the RCMP have claimed. Yet there are almost certainly witnesses to the interaction. It is also possible that witnesses will not come forward given the reputation of Terrace RCMP and community fears that exist regarding the force.
Nichols, Trevor. 2016. “Man Dies after B.C. RCMP Deploy Stun Gun.” Kelowna Now. https://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/Provincial/16/08/19/Man_dies_after_B_C_RCMP_deploy_stun_gun/