Category Archives: IIO

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.

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:

Surrey RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran Charged in Killing of Hudson Brooks

RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and one count of assault with a weapon in the 2015 killing of 20-year-old Hudson Brooks in Surrey, British Columbia. Brooks was shot by RCMP and killed outside the District 5 RCMP detachment on 152 Street in south Surrey at around 2:30 AM on July 18, 2015.

The BC Prosecution Service approved the charges on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, following a 15-month investigation by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia, the unit that investigates police harm to civilians in the province.  Incredibly, the IIO wrapped up its investigation and sent its report to the BC Prosecution Service to consider charges in October of 2016. Yes, 14 months ago. So more questions are raised in a case that already has too many about why the Crown prosecutors took so long to lay charges. Is it because the killer was a police officer, an RCMP constable? This question must be asked given the tendency by Crown not to bring charges against killer cops even where charges are recommended.

Brooks was unarmed, dressed in shorts and flip flops when officers approached him outside the detachment. He was said to be screaming, possibly asking for help, according to some witnesses, when he was shot and killed. An officer was also shot and in first reports it was suggested that the officer had somehow been injured by Brooks, the implication being a shootout. It turns out this was a police distortion, perhaps designed to cast suspicion on the victim and to legitimize the officers’ actions publicly. It was eventually revealed that the officer had been shot by a weapon fired by police (no weapons other than police weapons were on the scene).

This has been a grueling process for the Brooks family who have worked hard to gain information about the killing of their loved one and to see those officers responsible held to some account. Family and friends of Hudson Brooks started a movement called Justice For Hudson to bring public attention to and to call for information about the police killing. They held several marches through south Surrey which were attended by hundreds of people and went right to the RCMP detachment. The Brooks family has repeatedly stated their frustration publicly with the length of time for the investigation and the lack of responsiveness by authorities.

Killer cop Cucheran is scheduled for a first appearance in Surrey provincial court on January 9, 2018.


No Charges Against BC RCMP in Pepper Spray and Choking Death of Jacobus Jonker in 2015

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.