The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating a police-involved death during an incident in Vancouver on July 13, 2019. According to the IIO, Vancouver Police report that officers responded to a report of a person throwing property from the upper floor of a residential building on Bidwell Street in Vancouver. A man fell from an upper floor to the ground shortly after officers entered the building. He did not survive the fall.
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Many questions have been unanswered since two people, later identified as Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson, were killed during an alleged hostage taking and police standoff in Surrey, British Columbia on March 29, 2019. Foremost among these was whether RCMP officers actually fired the fatal shots, killing both people. Police have been notably silent on that question all the while putting out a public narrative that they used lethal force to save a hostage who was probably killed by the hostage taker. On May 2 the horrible answer finally came. The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) has publicly confirmed that both Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson were killed by multiple shots fired by the RCMP.
Initial reports suggested that both had been shot with Crosson dying at the scene and McEwan dying later in hospital. Police alleged that Crosson had taken McEwan hostage and implied that police violence was necessary to save the hostage.
When asked previously by reporters if he could say conclusively that a police bullet did not hit Nona McEwan, the Surrey Now-Leader reports that Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesperson Corporal Frank Jang replied:
“No, I mean that’s all part of the investigation that’s happening now. There will be updates coming forth from the IIO but all those details, the exact mechanism, entries, where the shots came from, that’s all going to be part of the investigation. I can’t comment further because it’s still ongoing.”
Police control the information flow when they kill in the Canadian context. In various cases when they kill, they frame reports of events to blame victims or suggest that police acted heroically under immediate threat. As in this case they suggest that a victim was killed by “a suspect” rather than by police.
Police Shooting Leaves Man Dead at Queensborough Landing Mall in New Westminster, BC (Feb. 24, 2019)
A police shooting has left a man dead at the Queensborough Landing mall in New Westminster, British Columbia, on Sunday, February 24 at around 9:40 PM.
According to the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the unit that examines cases of police harm in the province, police claim they responded to a report of a man with a firearm at the rear of the Walmart at 805 Boyd Street. The IIO reports that two officers at the scene fired their weapons. The encounter left the man dead. The IIO says it is investigating the cause of his death and whether the shots that caused the man’s death came from his own firearm or from those of the police at the scene.
It has been reported that the man was experiencing mental distress. No other information has been publicly released. It has not been independently confirmed that the victim had a weapon let alone discharged it.
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.
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.
There is no formal, systematic process for documenting and recording the deaths of civilians through encounters with police in Canada. There is no systematic reporting publicly of civilian deaths through police encounters. A baseline or minimum number of people who died through police encounters can be arrived at by review of oversight agency reports, coroners inquest reports, and close following of media articles. Here is some of the very limited information of what we know about 65 reported deaths. Much more needs to be known and should be made public.
- Amleset Haile. Female. 60. January 2. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Self-inflicted. (Black woman).
- Jimmy Cloutier. Male. 38. January 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot.
- Ralph Stevens. Male. 27. January 7. Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
- Nadia Racine. Female. 34. January 25. Gatineau, Quebec. Gatineau Police. In-custody.
- Male. 20. February 11. Goodfare, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. No Age Given. February 12. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. In-custody.
- Moses Amik Beaver. Male. 56. February 13. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous Man).
- Female. 20. March 6. Burlington, Ontario. Halton Regional Police Service.
- Male. 28. March 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Heart attack.
- Vitaly Savin. Male. 55. March 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
- Male. 20. March 18. Pond Inlet. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
- Male. March 24. 61. Chateauguay, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec.
- Male. 40. April 1. Kelowna, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. 24. April 28. Puvirnituq, Quebec. Kativik Regional Police Force. In-custody.
- Male. 39. May 2. Hall Beach. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
- Male. 32. May 13. Fort McMurray, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. 41. May 15. Beauceville, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
- Male. 26. May 22. Cambridge, Ontario.
- Female. No Age Given. May 27. Oak Bay, British Columbia. Victoria Police.
- Male. 43. June 3. Smith Falls, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Self-inflicted.
- Male. 31. June 3. Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa Police Service. Shot.
- Male. No Age Given. June 18. Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot
- Austin Eaglechief. Male. 22. June 19. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Police. Shot.
- Pierre Coriolan. Male. 58. June 27. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot. (Black man).
- Male. No Age Given. July 3. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Vehicle chase.
- Male. No Age Given. July 5. Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. RCMP. Self-inflicted.
- Male. No Age Given. July 9. Quebec City, Quebec. Quebec City Police. Shot.
- Dale Culvner. Male. 35. July 18. Prince George, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
- Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay. Male. 50. July 19. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous man).
- Shawn Davis. Male. 52. July 26. Chatham, Ontario. Chatham Police. “Sudden Death.”
- Male. 66. July 30. Pointe-Calumet, Quebec. Vehicle chase.
- Male. 25. August 10. Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
- Female. 55. August 7. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
- Male. 23. August 20. La Sarre, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
- Male. No Age Given. August 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. In-custody.
- Ozama Shaw. Male. 15. July 27. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Region Police. Shot. (Black youth).
- Male. 48. September 4. Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury Police. In-custody.
- Female. 26. September 4. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
- Unnamed Male. 26. September 6. Whitefish Lake First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot.
- Female. 46. September 9. Indian Head, Saskatchewan. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. 29. September 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
- Adrian Lacquette. 23. September 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
- Male. 34. September 15. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
- Male. 33. September 23. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
- Sheila Walsh. Female. 65. September 25. Arnprior, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Vehicle chase.
- Female. No Age Given. October 2. Quesnel, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
- Nathan Wehlre. Male. 15. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
- Taryn Hewitt. Female. 16. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
- Cody Severight. Male. 23. October 10. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Hit and run, officer DUI.
- Male. 35. October 12. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot.
- Cavin Poucette. Male. 26. October 19. Gleichen, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
- Brydon Bryce Whitstone. Male. 22. October 22. North Battleford, Saskatchewan. (Indigenous man).
- Tom Ryan. Male. 70. October 27. Cobourg, Ontario. Cobourg Police Service. Shot.
- Male. 44. October 31. Brampton, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. During arrest.
- Male. 23. November 8. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody.
- Bill Saunders. Male. 18. November 15. Lake Manitoba First Nation, Manitoba. Shot.
- Male. 57. November 26. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. In-custody.
- David Tshitoya Kalubi. Male. 23. November 24. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody. (Black youth).
- Male. 52. December 6. Douglas, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
- Male. 25. December 13. Maple, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Shot.
- Babak Saidi. Male. 43. December 23. Morrisburg, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
- Male. December 24. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
- Male. 22. December 28. Umiujaq, Quebec. Shot.
- Male. 36. December 28. Danford Lake, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot
- Male. No Age Given. December 30. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. Shot.
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