Charges will not be laid against members of the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team in connection with a September 17, 2014 shooting near Valemount.
The B.C. Prosecution Service made the announcement Friday.
On September 17, 2014, during the course of arresting an armed suspect, shots were fired by several ERT officers, according to a prosecution service press release.
The suspect was killed and another individual was seriously wounded. The possible Criminal Code offences considered in this case consisted of murder, attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, discharging a firearm with the intent to wound, and careless use of a firearm.
The incident was investigated by the Independent Investigations Office, which subsequently submitted a report to Crown Counsel (RCC) to the BCPS. In this case, the BCPS concluded on the entirety of the evidence made available to it, that the charge assessment standard for initiating a prosecution has not been met.
According to the statement made regarding the incident, the following is what happened:
Early in June 2014, the male suspect had been arrested by police after engaging in threatening behavior against a woman and her daughter who had encountered him blocking a public trail with his camper.
The male suspect had threatened to kill the woman and her daughter. Police attended the encampment later that day and arrested the male suspect after a three hour standoff. Located in the male’s camper van were several weapons, including 3 rifles, 2 shotguns and a handgun, all loaded with numerous additional rounds of ammunition nearby.
Neither the male suspect nor the female suspect, who was also present at the scene in June, was licensed to possess firearms. The male suspect was charged with a number of offences and released on bail with conditions including reporting to a bail supervisor.
He was also directed to attend court on September 4th. 5 On July 23, 2014 Valemount RCMP received information that the male suspect had access to firearms, had a history of violence, was anti-authority and would not accept any attempts to enforce charges or restrict his behavior. He was described by a person who had personally interacted with him as a time bomb.
The informant also described the female suspect as one who would “go to her end defending [the male suspect]”. On August 18, 2014, the male suspect failed to report as required under the terms of his release on bail. On September 4, 2014, he failed to appear in court as required under the terms of his release on bail. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest. On Sunday September 7, 2014 a private citizen found that the male and female suspects had cut the lock off a gate that prevented access to his remote cabin and were occupying the cabin with six German Shepherd dogs without the his permission. Seeing that they would need time to decamp he advised them to vacate the premises by the following Saturday.
The police were alerted to the presence of the male and female suspects at the cabin. The suspects did not leave the premises by Saturday September 13, 2014. The police began making arrangements for the arrest of the male suspect and began surveillance of the area.
On September 14 the police learned that a person matching the description of the male suspect had damaged the only bridge that provided road access to the cabin by setting fire to it and sawing 90% of the way through the wooden beams. Over the next few days the police determined that the male and female suspects were always armed with rifles and were usually accompanied by six large German Shepherd dogs.
An operational plan was developed involving a number of teams aimed at isolating the two suspects, separating them from the dogs and taking them into custody. The plan involved the use of non-lethal devices, flash-bang distraction devices, a beanbag shotgun and voice commands.
A dead tree was positioned across the laneway used by the male suspect as he moved about the property on an ATV in the hope that he would put down his weapon to move the tree. On the evening of the 17th the two suspects were observed leaving the property on ATVs. Both were armed with rifles. The police moved to intercept the two should they return to the cabin.
Two officers covertly observed them at the deadfall on the laneway. The male suspect was heard to say “They’ve set up an ambush” and “I bet you they fixed the bridge.” Both suspects scanned the treeline with their flashlights and rifles before moving off.
As the two returned to the cabin on the ATVs the female suspect stopped on the laneway about 30 meters before the clearing around the cabin. The male suspect continued moving towards the cabin. As he reached the clearing, the police deployed the flash-bang distraction devices and the bean bag shotgun at the same time, identifying themselves as police officers and demanding the male suspect stop as he was under arrest. The male suspect did not stop but accelerated past the cabin and turned behind a woodshed.
Officers A, B, C, and D quickly followed the male suspect around the corner of the woodshed. They found the suspect as he dismounted the ATV taking his rifle with him. As the officers came around the corner the suspect turned towards the officers holding the rifle and raising it so that it was pointed directly at the officers in a manner such that it could be immediately discharged.
At this point the officers were approximately 3-5 meters from the suspect. Officers A and B fired their weapons at the suspect. After the suspect went to the ground he appeared to continue his efforts to bring his rifle to bear on the officers. Officer C fired three more times and the suspect let go of the rifle. One officer estimated that the time that passed between when the suspect dismounted the ATV to conclusion was only a matter of seconds. The male suspect died as a result of gunshot wounds to his chest.
At the same time that the male suspect accelerated past the woodshed, other officers attended to the female suspect. Initially the female suspect remained on the driveway near her ATV. As the officers approached her she moved from her position near the ATV into the tree line where she attempted to conceal herself behind a fallen tree. The approaching officers identified themselves and directed her to show her hands.
Although she initially started to comply and dropped her rifle, she suddenly stopped, crouched down, retrieved her rifle and stood up and raised it in the direction of the police. As she turned in the direction of the officers she was shot by officer E. He fired three rounds towards the female suspect from a range of approximately 7 – 10 meters. She fell to the ground and was arrested by the officers. She has since recovered from her injuries.