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.