On Thursday, December 14, 2017 the British Columbia Prosecutor’s Service announced that there would be no charges against the killer Smithers RCMP officers involved in the pepper spray and choking death of 53-year-old rugby coach Jacobus Jonker in 2015. Jonker was killed at the police station a week after his Valentine’s Day arrest.
An investigation by the Independent Investigations Office of BC, the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians (but is by no means independent of police), decided there was a lack of evidence of a crime or use of excessive force by police, despite the fact that RCMP pepper sprayed the victim and one officer held him in some form of choke-like hold until he stopped moving. The state protects the state in cases of police violence against civilians.
Jacobus Jonker, had been arrested at his Smithers home following a call to 911 by his daughter around 10:34 PM on February 14, 2015. She had said the father was “horribly drunk” and the family had left the premises to go to a neighbor’s residence. Police arrived around 11:00 PM.
RCMP officers pepper sprayed Jonker and took him to the Smithers RCMP detachment. At the detachment there was allegedly a conflict between Jonker and an officer. As Jonker was moved to a cell, a supervisor claimed he felt threatened and other officers moved to restrain the victim. In the ensuing struggle, an assisting officer held Jonker around the head and neck. According to the report of the Prosecutor’s Service: “After a brief struggle the suspect stopped resisting and went limp. The officers rolled him over and found that he had stopped breathing.”
Jonker never regained consciousness. He was transported to Bulkley Valley General Hospital and then to Victoria General Hospital, where he died on February 21, 2015.
A public inquest has been set to examine the killing of Travis Rood, a 35-year-old Burnaby man, by Burnaby RCMP on March 29, 2015. The BC Coroners Service has claimed that Rood suffered injuries “following an encounter with the attending officer” and has set the inquest for January 8, 2018 in Burnaby. Rood was shot by RCMP and died at Royal Columbian Hospital. The inquest cannot assign criminal responsibility and can only make recommendations that police are in no way obligated to adopt.
It has been announced that the BC Coroners Service will hold a public inquest into the fatal shooting of 51-year-old Phuong Na (Tony) Du by Vancouver police in 2014. Du was killed by Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers in public while in some psychological distress on Knight Street near 41st Avenue in Vancouver.
Two officers responded to calls about DU with one firing a been bag gun at him and the other shooting him with a firearm. Du was taken to hospital where he died from the injuries inflicted by police. Du experienced mental illness.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia investigated the killing but charges were not recommended by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) for the two officers responsible. The CJB claimed the use of a firearm by one of the officers was justifiable on the basis of his belief that his partner’s life was in danger, despite the fact that the other officer was armed.
In February 2017, Tony Du’s family launched a civil suit against the City of Vancouver and the police officer who fired the fatal shot in the killing. Lawyers representing the victim’s family note that Tony Du was killed between only 18 and 25 seconds after police arrived on the scene. This time was no where near long enough for police to begin a conversation with Du let alone establish his mental condition.
The public inquest into the police killing of Tony Du will commence on February 5, 2018, at the Burnaby Coroners Court. As per usual, the coroner’s jury will be able to make recommendations that might prevent deaths under similar circumstances but which police are under no obligation at all to follow. The jury cannot make any finding of legal responsibility or blame and can not recommend charges against any killer cop.
A coroner’s inquest into the November 7, 2016, in-custody death of Ebony Aaron Wood (36) in Quesnel, British Columbia, began Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The BC Coroners Service reports that Wood was involved in a vehicular incident and was taken into custody and placed in a police cruiser on November 5, 2016. He apparently told an RCMP officer that he had chest and shoulder pain and an ambulance was called. Wood was transferred to the ambulance to be taken to hospital. At some point en route he exited the rear of the ambulance falling to the road and suffering a head injury. He dies two days later on November 7, 2016.
The inquest is mandatory because Wood was in the custody of a police officer at the time of his death. Regional coroner Donita Kuzma will be joined by a jury in hearing from witnesses in an attempt to establish the facts of Wood’s death. Coroners’ inquests do not assign fault in such deaths, and its recommendations need not be followed by any police force or officers.
On Monday, October 30, 2017, The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed appeals from killer Mounties Kwesi Millington and Benjamin (Monty) Robinson who had been convicted of perjury in connection with the killing of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in 2007. The two Mounties were among four RCMP officers charged with perjury following a public inquiry into the killing of Mr. Dziekanski, a traveler from Poland who was tased multiple times in the arrivals area of the airport. Millington was sentenced to 30 months in prison while Robinson was sentenced to two years less a day, one year of probation, and 240 hours of community service.
The Dziekanski killing put on display clearly the culture of deception and lies that marks Canadian policing in general and the RCMP in particular and was infused with lies through and through. The RCMP spokesperson initially proclaimed publicly that Mr. Dziekanski was acting aggressively toward officers, not complying, and apparently drunk. All of these claims against the victim were shown to be lies when a civilian video of the encounter appeared showing that, in fact, Mr. Dziekanski did not confront officers aggressively and appeared to be following their orders (despite a language barrier as none of the officers spoke Polish). RCMP had taken the video from the videographer and attempted to keep it from being released publicly.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeals immediately after hearing them. Because they ruled from the bench, formal reasons for their decision were not immediately available.
The Independent Investigations Office is investigating circumstances that left a 35-year-old man dead after a confrontation with police near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
RCMP claim that officers were called to a highway near Qualicum Beach on the morning of Thursday, October 12, 2017, over reports of a man who had stabbed himself. Police claim they chased the man down the highway and a struggle ensured during which an officer fired a shot. Paramedics apparently arrived to provide medical assistance but the man died of injuries sustained.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, announced on October 2, 2017, that it is investigating an in-custody death in Quesnel, BC. The victim, identified as a woman, reportedly died only hours after being arrested by RCMP.
According to the IIO, RCMP officers claim they were called on reports of an assault early Sunday morning. Upon arrival they found a female victim who they decided to arrest for allegedly breaching a court-imposed condition. The victim was arrested and taken to the local RCMP detachment where police claim she was examined by paramedics before being taken to hospital. The woman died in custody Monday morning.
Police accounts have not been independently verified. No further details have been publicly released. Neither has it been explained why the victim of an assault was not treated as such and taken directly to hospital rather than arrested for an administrative offense and taken to the detachment. People detained over so-called administrative offenses make up a relatively large proportion of people incarcerated in British Columbia.