Category Archives: IIO

Killer Cop BC RCMP Jason Tait Charged with Manslaughter for Shooting Waylon Edey in 2015

On Tuesday, April 3, 2018 a charge of manslaughter was sworn against British Columbia killer cop RCMP Constable Jason Tait for shooting and killing Waylon Edey on January 29, 2015 near Castlegar. Edey was  a father of four from Yahk. The charge is a rare decision against a killer cop in Canada.

The charge comes more than a year after the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) completed its investigation, according to a statement from the BC Prosecution Service. The IIO report was submitted in December of 2016. Said the statement: “The investigation and charge assessment process were protracted due, in part, to the complexities of the evidentiary issues in the case and the requirement for further investigation and analysis.”

Constable Tait was a member of an RCMP traffic unit at the time of the shooting near Castlegar. He shot and killed Waylon Edey during a traffic stop.

Waylon Edey’s mother, Deborah Edey, has filed a lawsuit against British Columbia’s Minister of Public Safety and Canada’s Attorney General as well as the RCMP officer who shot Edey. She is suing on behalf of her grandchildren, who range in age from 22 to 14. The suit claims that Waylon Edey was unarmed at the time he was shot and that the use of deadly force was unwarranted.

Killer cop Jason Tait is scheduled to make his first appearance in provincial court in British Columbia on April 30, 2018.

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No Charges Against RCMP in Killing of Peter DeGroot in 2014

RCMP shot and killed Peter DeGroot in 2014 after tracking him to an isolated cabin in a remote woods near Slocan, British Columbia. It took the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) an outrageously long period of nearly four years to issue their report into the killing, which they finally did on March 29, 2018. Not surprisingly they cleared the officers involved in the killing of DeGroot. Broader questions remain about why they targeted and tracked the man who seemed only to want to be left alone in the woods.

It has been stated by police that the events leading to DeGroot’s killing began when RCMP officers responded to reports of a dispute between two people on October 9, 2014. DeGroot fled into the woods. Police initiated a search by officers, deploying helicopters and dogs. Police found DeGroot alone in a cabin four days later while out in the woods on unrelated business. Initial evidence and a first coroner’s report suggested that DeGroot had been shot in the back. Some have speculated that the drawn out investigation was really about finding time to patch together an alternative conclusion more favorable to police.

The IIO report concludes: “The evidence collected does not provide sufficient grounds to consider any charges against any officer. The evidence does offer support to the conclusion that the officers acted as required by their duties and in accordance with the law.

RCMP deputy commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr has lauded the work of new IIO chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald since he took over the post a year ago and says he has given her confidence that trust in the IIO will be renewed by police. This should given anyone concerned about police oversight and independent review great cause for concern.


Man Dies During Arrest in South Surrey (Mar. 19, 2018)

A man died after going into medical distress during an arrest in South Surrey involving members of the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department (VPD) on the afternoon of March 19, 2018. Surrey RCMP report receiving multiple calls about a man apparently in some distress in the roadway near the intersection of 10 Avenue and 161A Street around 1:40 PM.

According to a media release by the Independent Investigations Office of BC, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, the man went into medical crisis when RCMP “tried to gain control and take him into custody.” The man had reportedly first been confronted by an off-duty VPD officer. Emergency Health Services arrived and attempted to provide aid but the man was declared dead around 3 PM.

Once again the question must be asked why police were the ones sent to interact with someone in personal distress but posing no threat to the public. Questions must be asked about the role the off-duty VPD officer played in confronting the man initially.


Man Dies After Being Tased by RCMP in Chilliwack, BC (Feb. 24, 2018)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) is investigating the death of a man in Chilliwack after he was shot by a taser by RCMP on the afternoon of Saturday, February 24, 2018. According to the IIO the RCMP were responding to reports of a parental abduction. According to the IIO, RCMP say that a stun gun was deployed during an “interaction” with the man who then went into “medical distress.” The IIO says emergency medical services were called to the scene, but the man did not survive. No further details have been provided and there has been no independent confirmation publicly of RCMP claims.


Death of Dale Culver, of Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan First Nations: Formal Complaint Raises Questions About Racism, Intimidation of Witnesses in RCMP Arrest

The British Columbia C Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has raised questions of “racial bias” and excessive force by RCMP officers in the arrest of Dale Culver (35) of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan First Nations who died in custody following the arrest in July 2017. In an official complaint filed January 16, 2018, to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, the BCCLA also claims that the RCMP in Prince George, BC, told witnesses to delete video footage of the Culver arrest. According to police reports, Culver complained of shortness of breath after arrest and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Culver’s cousin, Debbie Pierre, said she was not informed of his death until 24 hours later. She then found video footage of the arrest posted on social media. In her words: “It was horrific” (quoted in Kurjata and McKinnon 2018). The family had questions about Culver’s death and contacted the BCCLA to get some answers.

Police reports suggest the RCMP responded to a call about a man allegedly “casing vehicles.” This claim has not been independently confirmed nor has it been explained what that assumption was based on by caller or police. Police struggled with Culver physically.

It is reported that pepper spray used in Culver’s arrest. When he was put in the back of a police vehicle he appeared to have difficulty breathing. An ambulance was called and Culver collapsed when taken out of the police car. He was pronounced dead in hospital a bit after midnight on July 19, 2017.

According to executive director Josh Paterson, BCCLA has spoken with “a number of people, including eyewitnesses” who allege RCMP instructed people to delete video footage of the arrest (Kurjata and McKinnon 2018). The association questions whether “explicit or  implicit racial  bias” played a role in the encounter and arrest. BCCLA says it has been told there were “several hours” between the initial call to police and the arrival of RCMP on the scene (Kurjata and McKinnon 2018). This raises obvious questions about Culver was approached and, specifically, whether it was because he was Indigenous.

In the words of the BCCLA complaint:

“We question on what information or basis the member or members of the RCMP began their interaction or questioning of Mr. Culver, and/or a request to identify himself, in the first place.” (quoted in Kurjata and McKinnon 2018)

Debbie Pierre is left with the same question. In her words: “Was Dale targeted because of Dale or was he targeted because of his being Indigenous” (quoted in Kurjata and McKinnon 2018).

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is also investigating, as it does in cases of police harm to civilians in the province. IIO chief civilian director Ron MacDonald says the IIO was independently aware of allegations of witnesses being told to delete video footage. He also said the IIO was aware of questions regardding police use of force and the timing of Culver’s arrest.

Culver had three children, the eldest of whom is now 14.

 

Further Reading

Kurjata, Andrew and Audrey McKinnon. 2018. “BC Civil Liberties Association Files Complaint Alleging RCMP Told Witnesses to Delete Video of Arrest” CBC News January 16. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/civil-liberties-iio-pg-rcmp-1.4489925


IIO Lets Off RCMP Who Killed Craig Andrew Ford in Nanaimo, BC, in 2016

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the body that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, has issued its report on the June 14, 2016 police shooting of 49-year-old Craig Andrew Ford and, as per usual exonerates the RCMP officer responsible. The IIO reports that three officers responded to a call of a man walking outside a restaurant carrying a knife in the city’s Norwell Drive area. Notably, the IIO reports that the caller said the man did not appear to be threatening anyone.

The report says one officer first encountered Ford on Country Club Drive, behind St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and he was allegedly  “walking purposefully” (though it is not explained what this meant exactly A second officer then arrived in a car. As Ford began walking towards the vehicle the officer shot Ford twice. There is nothing in the report to suggest how an officer inside a police vehicle was under any threat from a man allegedly holding a knife and nothing more. There is some hint in the report that police were attempting to imply the bogus and discredited “suicide by cop” excuse.

Of note, the IIO came to its conclusion despite that fact that the officer who shot Ford declined to provide a statement or his notes. One can ask how any “investigation” has any veracity or legitimacy when it is not mandatory for Mounties under investigation to provide information, not even their notes, or to be questioned. Such is the dubious and limited nature of so-called investigations of police who kill in Canada.

Yet in spite of this the IIO felt confident in declaring: “(The officer) had to act quickly to protect himself, and had little time to weigh his options. It was reasonable for him to shoot in defense.” Again, it is not clear how shooting someone armed with no more than a knife, who is several feet from the officer who is safely inside a police vehicle can be constituted as an act of defense. It is as if the IIO is writing the officer’s own exoneration note.


Data Show Third Consecutive Yearly Increase in Police-Involved Deaths in BC

A database of deaths involving BC law enforcement shows an increase in police-involved deaths of civilians in the province in 2016, the third year in a row such an increase has been recorded. The database is maintained by The Georgia Straight newsmagazine, and journalist Travis Lupick, and uses information from the BC Coroners Service and the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. The records account for people dying during interactions with police and in law enforcement agency custody. Numbers for 2017 are still being compiled and assessed.

Over the period of 2009 to 2013, reported police involved deaths were at 13 or 14 each year. In 2014, the number of recorded deaths rose to 16. There were 17 recorded in 2015 and 18 in 2016. The eighteen recorded deaths in 2016 represents the highest number recorded for a single year in the database, which traces back to 2003. In 2007 there were 17 deaths reported, the second highest number.

The database records show that the increase has been driven by the RCMP, which polices 150 municipalities across the province as well as serving as a provincial and a federal force. While many of those are jurisdictions are small towns, and several notable killings by police have occurred in small towns and in the north, the RCMP is also responsible for larger cities, including Metro Vancouver centers of Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey. In 2012, four people died during interactions with RCMP officers, while the number rose to seven in 2013, six in 2014, 12 in 2015, then 12 again in 2016.

In terms of shootings, since 2006, there have been an average of 3.8 recorded fatal shootings by police each year. Total numbers for the database include deaths in BC prisons (omitting natural causes). Deaths in prisons continue to constitute a relative minority in the reported cases. The database suggests that many of the cases of reported police-involved deaths involve issues of mental health and/or substance use. Issues like race, and racism, and impacts of colonialism are not systematically documented.

There are no official recording and communicating procedures for documenting police-involved killings in British Columbia, nor are there in other Canadian provinces. This leads the public to believe police killings of civilians in Canada occur less frequently than they actually do. We have heard people express on numerous occasions the belief that police killings of civilians in Canada in single digit numbers each year—for the country as a whole. The reported numbers obviously do not include any killings of civilians by police that police do not report.

 

The database can be accessed at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aLNSF4Hkk9XdVKeuVU6ZrRO6GtSxT4t8TiMiQ6ptLrY/edit#gid=0