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Watchdog opens door to charges against 3 RCMP officers in Wet’suwet’en man’s death

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Watchdog opens door to charges against 3 RCMP officers in Wet’suwet’en man’s death
The IIO has opened the door to possible charges against three RCMP officers involved in the shooting death of Jared Lowndes, a 38-year-old Wet’suwet’en man in Campbell River in 2021 – Dec 2, 2022

B.C.’s civilian police watchdog has opened the door to possible charges against three RCMP officers involved in the shooting death of a 38-year-old Wet’suwet’en man in Campbell River in 2021.

Jared Lowndes, a father of two, died on June 8, 2021 following an interaction with police. During the altercation, and RCMP officer was stabbed an injured, and a police service dog was fatally stabbed.

On Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) said its chief civilian director was preparing a report to Crown counsel for consideration of charges in the coming months, after determining three officers may have committed use of force offences.

Laura Holland, Lowndes’ mother, told Global News the IIO’s conclusions Thursday left her with mixed emotions.

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“There’s a lot of sadness and a lot of rage because it felt like July 2021 all over again, It felt like he just died this morning,” she said.

“I’m also happy that the IIO is (forwarding the file to Crown for consideration of) charges against three of the officers.”

According to the IIO, the incident began around 5:30 a.m., when an RCMP officer went to check on a parked dark blue Audi, but the person inside drove away.

Around 9 a.m., police stopped the Audi in a drive-thru in the 2000-block of South Island Highway, the IIO said.

“During the interaction that followed, shots were fired by police, and the man was subsequently pronounced deceased,” the IIO said in a media release.

The watchdog said it would not release further information, as it could prejudice a potential prosecution.

Click to play video: 'Police on scene of serious incident in Campbell River'
Police on scene of serious incident in Campbell River

The BC RCMP said it would not comment on the matter until the BC Prosecution Service determined whether it would lay charges or not.

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In a previous statement, the National Police Federation, the union representing RCMP officers, expressed condolences about Lowndes death, but went on to say he was responsible for the outcome.

“If Mr. Lowndes had not, however, evaded police, stabbed PSD Gator and injured an RCMP officer, and instead turned himself into the Courts to comply with a warrant for weapons offences, he could be alive today,” wrote National Police Federation president Brian Sauvé.

Holland, however, believes her son was targeted by police.

“Jared was only on the island for hours, he wasn’t even there a whole day. They hunted him down and killed him,” Holland said.

“There was no happiness for us today. There is some relief, but we have a long way to go. Now we have to wait for Crown to make their decision on what to do. So it’s going to be a long wait, it’s going to be a long haul.”

Lowndes’ family and supporters including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Pivot Legal Society and the BC Civil Liberties Association held a protest in Vancouver Thursday afternoon in response to the findings.

“Since Jared’s death, his mother, family, and a community of supporters have been working non-stop on a public advocacy campaign to bring attention to the killing of Jared, as well as all Indigenous people killed by police and in police custody across Canada. In the 16 months since Jared’s death, there have been 74 reported incidents of in-custody deaths in BC alone,” organizers said in a media release.

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“It is time for police officers to be held accountable for the unnecessary use of force that too often results in the death of Indigenous community members.”

The IIO said in order for Crown prosecutors to approve charges, they must be satisfied there is a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that the IIO had forwarded a report to Crown counsel for consideration of charges. In fact, the IIO is in the process of preparing that report. Global News regrets the error.

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