B.C.’s civilian police watchdog has cleared the RCMP of wrongdoing in connection with the death of a man and woman during a hostage-taking and standoff in Surrey last March.
On March 28, RCMP were called to a home in a cul-de-sac near 133 Street, where officers engaged in a standoff with a man holding a woman hostage.
Both the man and woman were fatally shot as officers tried to save the woman, according to a report released Wednesday from the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO).
The report concluded that officers acted lawfully during a dangerous hostage-taking, and the woman’s death was an accident that came out of a crisis “deliberately created” by the man.
Global News had previously identified the man and woman, who are not named in the report, as Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson.
The Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team (ERT) was called to the scene around 10 p.m. and a crisis negotiation tried to talk with the man and woman inside.
Around 3 a.m., Crosson was heard yelling “It’s a good day to die.”
In a recording of a 911 call, he can be heard saying, “You tell those pigs to get the f–k away from my house or I will start killing people.”
A woman’s voice was later heard coming from the house, confirming to officers that they were facing a hostage situation, the report said.
Just before 7 a.m., Crosson was heard saying, “You have one hour and I’m going to kill her. Time starts now.”
A psychologist consultant told police that Crosson was likely to follow through on his threat. Police believed they had to enter the bedroom where the two were located, or Crosson could take McEwan’s life along with his own.
When officers entered the room, they found Crosson holding a knife to McEwan’s throat and using her as a human shield. He had what appeared to be a pistol in his other hand, the report reads.
An officer saw McEwan move just enough that he was able to shoot Crosson in his side. Other officers fired when they saw he was still moving.
McEwan suffered two gunshot wounds and later died in hospital.
An autopsy found Crosson died of multiple gunshot wounds. Toxicology reports found the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, fentanyl, norfentanyl, heroin, ethanol, THC and naloxone in his system.
According to the report, officers were compelled to act when Crosson threatened to kill McEwan within an hour, the report said.
“The police could not simply stand by and let the deadline pass,” the report reads.
The report could not determine how the bullets intended for Crosson ended up hitting McEwan, nor did it determine which officers fired the shots that killed her.
The IIO is a civilian-led body that investigates police-related incidents involving the death or serious harm of members of the public.
In response to the report, the B.C. RCMP said they learned from the IIO that police gunfire had led to McEwan’s fatal injuries, and offered condolences to her family.
“From the day this incident took place, our thoughts have been with them as they have suffered an unimaginable loss,” commanding officer Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan said in a statement, calling McEwan’s death a “worst case scenario.”
Strachan added the officers who responded to the “dangerous and dynamic environment” that day have received support from RCMP and have since returned to active duty.
— With files from Sean Boynton and Simon Little