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.
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.
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.
There has long been a concern, a suspicion, that police claim victims of police shootings have died of self-inflicted wounds when, in fact, they were killed by officers. (That suspicion has been particularly strong in cases where police investigate police.) One such case was confirmed on Monday, June 26, 2017 when the Internal Investigations Office (IIO) in British Columbia, the oversight agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians overturned an RCMP claim that the June 18, 2017, death of a Lower Mainland man had died of a self-inflicted wound despite police firing shots at the man. The IIO has determined that the man killed in Port Coquitlam, in fact, died from a police bullet.
In a media release on Juen 26, IIO spokesperson Marten Youssef declared: “Initial reports made to the IIO … by the RCMP, suggested that a distraught male may have shot himself following an exchange of gunfire with police. Following an autopsy, it has been determined that the male’s death was not self-inflicted.” In the initial, confused, report from the RCMP the force had made it seem publicly that the man had killed himself. That was the impression they shaped for the public.
The IIO reported that it had interviewed six police officers and 30 witnesses over the past week. They have additionally reported that in the hours after the police killing a male relative of the man killed also received “serious injuries.” That situation is still being investigated. No police officers were injured.
While recognizing the numerous problems with the IIO, one can speculate how the initial RCMP claims might have been treated had another police force investigated the present case. RCMP distorting facts for public management after killing someone is not unique in the province as the killing of Robert Dziekanski showed.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating the death of a man during an encounter with police in which shots were fired by police. Publicly available details are sketchy at the moment but it is suggested by the IIO that RCMP responded to a report of a distraught man threatening to harm himself outside a home in Port Coquitlam, Metro Vancouver, Sunday June 18, 2017. The IIO statement is unclear and suggests only that the man fired shots into the air, yet there is an investigation into whether his injuries were self-inflicted. Police are said to have fired weapons during the encounter and the victim was found dead after RCMP fired.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the oversight body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating after a woman was found dead in the Victoria suburb of Oak Bay around 9: 30 on the morning of Saturday, May 27, 2017. Police officers had some interaction with the woman Friday evening, hours before she was found dead but neither Victoria police nor the IIO are providing any more information to the public. This lends a curious air of mystery to the situation. The BC Coroners Service is also investigating. The victim has not been named.