B.C.’s police watchdog has been called in to look into a man’s death following an incident involving the RCMP in Whistler on Sunday.
The man has been identified as Jason Koehler, the owner of a cannabis accessories shop along the Village Stroll called “2 Guys With Pipes.”
In a statement released March 8, BC RCMP say Whistler RCMP officers were called to a local business in Whistler Village at about 11 a.m. Sunday morning after receiving a complaint about an intoxicated male causing a disturbance.
While attempting to gain control of the male, officers deployed pepper spray, a conducted energy weapon, and batons, after which the male “suddenly became still.”
The officers began CPR and called emergency health services. The man was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Three officers were treated at hospital for minor injuries and released.
One woman who knew Koehler told Global News he had been struggling with mental health issues.
“People have illnesses and we need to help them,” Carol Milan said. “This man has slipped through and we need to do something about it.”
Court records show Koehler had a criminal history that included uttering threats in 2014 as well as assault and resisting arrest the following year.
“He will be missed as a person and he should be missed as a person and not for the things he didn’t do right and I want people to be aware of it,” Milan said.
The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia is investigating to determine whether police actions or inactions are linked to the man’s death.
Any potential witnesses are asked to call the IIO witness line at 1-855-446-8477.
— With files from Simon Little