Category Archives: Surrey

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.

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Killer RCMP Elizabeth Cucheran Pleads Not Guilty in Killing Hudson Brooks in Surrey

RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran has been charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in the killing of Hudson Brooks on July 18, 2015 in Surrey, British Columbia, a rare case of a killer cop being charged in Canada. On January 9, 2018, Constable Cucheran pleaded not guilty to both charges. The officer’s lawyer Andrea Kastanis entered the not guilty pleas on Cucheran’s behalf as Cucheran did not attend provincial court in Surrey, Interestingly, Kastanis also informed the court that Cucheran has elected to be tried by judge and jury rather than judge alone. The next step court dates will involve a preliminary inquiry now scheduled  take place over eight days in November and December of 2018.

No members of the Brooks family attended court on January 9, saying they will wait for the trial to start. The family has organized a number of events and started a campaign calling for Justice for Hudson since their loved one was shot and killed outside an RCMP detachment in South Surrey in 2015. They had a very long wait with little information about the killing of Hudson Brooks. Cucheran was only charged at the end of 2017, nearly two and a half years after Brooks died.

The RCMP has placed Cucheran on administrative duties. The force had initially suggested publicly that Brooks had a weapon as an officer was shot during the killing. It turns out that only police service weapons were present at the scene and that would was inflicted by the RCMP themselves.


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


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.

 


Audio of RCMP Killing of Hudson Brooks Posted Online

A matter of seconds. That was all the time that transpired before Surrey RCMP officers decided to shoot and kill Hudson Brooks after encountering the youth,  as revealed in newly released audio of the killing.

Most of the significant questions about the RCMP killing of Hudson Brooks outside an RCMP community policing detachment in south Surrey, British Columbia remain unanswered almost two years after the 20-year old was shot by police on July 18, 2015. His family has persistently sought answers, both of police and the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in the province.

In March 2017 police audio of the killing of Hudson Brooks was posted on YouTube. Notably, the clip was not released to family by police who have been uncommunicative regarding the killing. The audio was apparently posted by a user who regularly uploads recordings of police-involved incidents from radio traffic and scanners. The 2 minutes and 41 seconds of audio reveal the chaos of police actions and confirm the quick move by officers to deploy lethal force with virtually no interaction with, or attempt to communicate with the young man who would become their victim.

After hearing the audio, Jennifer Brooks, Hudson Brooks’ mother responded:  “It was devastating. It was so heartbreaking. There was no ‘stop, put up your hands,’ nothing. Within seconds of them calling upon him, he was shot. He didn’t stand a chance. How this went so wrong so quickly is unfathomable” (quoted in Chan 2017).

The audio confirmed what the family and some commentators have managed to piece together about the killing, from witnesses and available limited reports. Up front a female voice is heard describing Hudson Brooks. At the 52 second point, a male voice is heard saying: “I got something right here coming directly at me.” In a matter of mere seconds later: “I need help now. I need help now.” Then the call of “shots fired.”

The tape does confirm what many have suspected for some time, that the RCMP officer who was shot during the encounter actually shot herself. In the audio a female voice can be heard saying, “I shot myself.” This is followed by a male voice calling for emergency services: “Suspect is critical. We need a code. We need it now.” This is noteworthy because police initially used the shooting of an officer to suggest to the public that Hudson Brooks was armed and inflicted the wound, thus justifying, in their view, the deployment of lethal force.

The IIO has requested that the recording be taken down. Jennifer Brooks, however, says that while she would not listen too it again she supports it being publicly available so long as it does not impact the ongoing IIO investigation. In her  words: “Otherwise, the public needs to hear what happened” (quoted in Chan 2017). And answers are needed now. Why did police shoot? And why did they jump to shoot so quickly? Why did officers panic to such an extent that one would shoot herself and what does this say about the safety of any public into which such panicky officers are deployed? Too much time has passed with minimal to no information from police or the IIO.

 

The video can be found at:

 

Further Reading

Chan, Cheryl. 2017. “Audio of Surrey RCMP Shooting of Hudson Brooks Posted Online.” Vancouver Sun. March 30. http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/he-didnt-stand-a-chance-audio-of-police-involved-shooting-of-hudson-brooks-posted-online


Inquest into Vancouver Transit Police Killing of Naverone Woods (23) Begins: March 20, 2017

An inquest into the killing of Naverone Woods has begun in Burnaby, British Columbia on March 20, 2017. Woods, a 23-year-old Gitxsan man, was shot and killed by a Metro Vancouver Transit Police officer in Surrey, British Columbia in December 2014. This case has generated much concern and organized protest but few answers for grieving family members. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province, earlier reported that Woods was shirtless and suffering from self-inflicted knife wounds when police, including the transit police officer, encountered him inside a Safeway grocery store in the Whalley neighborhood in Surrey. The transit officer then fired her gun striking and killing Woods. She was cleared by the IIO in may 2016. The Metro Vancouver Transit Police are the first armed transit force in Canada.

The inquest, heard by presiding coroner Brynne Redford and a jury, has no power to attribute wrongdoing or recommend charges. They will examine evidence around the killing of Woods and make recommendations that they have no mechanism to enforce on police.

Family and friends have consistently referred to Naverone Woods as gentle, caring, and helpful.


BC Coroner Announces 2017 Public Inquest into Police Killing of Naverone Woods

The BC Coroners Service has announced that it will hold a public inquest into the death of Naverone Christian Landon Woods, a young Gitxsan man shot and killed by police in Surrey, British Columbia in 2014. The killing of the 23-year-old Woods, of Hazelton, has generated much concern and some pubic outcry and protest but few answers or information (such as names of officers involved) despite an investigation by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) the (non-independent) provincial oversight body that examines cases of police killings of civilians in BC.

What has been reported is that Naverone Woods entered a Safeway grocery store in the Whalley area in north Surrey, near the Skytrain, around 8 AM on December 28, 2014. Customers and staff either at the grocery store or a nearby convenience store reportedly called 911. Two officers from the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, an armed transit force, the first of its kind in Canada, entered the store and in the ensuing encounter one officer shot and killed Woods. The victim was taken to Royal Columbia Hospital in New Westminster, BC where he died shortly upon arrival.

The inquest will be see evidence presented to presiding coroner Brynne Redford and a jury. Testimony will be taken from witnesses under oath. Members of the public can make presentations. The focus will be on establishing facts of the killing and making recommendations but these have no binding power or authority.

The inquest into the police killing of Naverone Woods is scheduled to begin on March 20, 2017 at 9:30 AM. It will be held at Burnaby Coroners Court, 20th floor, MetroTower II, Metrotown, 4720 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC.