Lily Speed-Namox feels immense sadness when she thinks about the fact that her two younger siblings will never know their dad.
“The way I kind of look at it oftentimes and put it into perspective for myself, is my little sister and the fact that when this all first happened, she was six months old and she turned six years old about five days ago now,” said Namox.
“And so that’s like for me, that’s a hard thing to see and to know that her and my little brother will never get to know him, or most likely ever remember any memories that they did have with him. Because when this happened, I was 14 and my little brother was, I believe, four and my little sister was, as I said, six months old.”
She said his smile and his laugh were contagious. He could light up a room.
“He could make anybody laugh at any time, no matter what kind of a mood they were in,” Namox said. “That’s definitely probably the biggest thing that I carry with myself and in my own personality that I definitely take from him and that I also try and carry on.”
She wears a necklace every day with some of her dad’s ashes inside.
Namox’s dad was Dale Culver, an Indigenous man who died while in police custody in Prince George more than five-and-a-half-years ago.On Wednesday, five B.C. RCMP officers were charged in his death.
Two officers were charged with manslaughter, while three others were charged with attempting to obstruct justice in relation to the July 18, 2017, incident.
“Definitely a long time waiting,” Namox said, “but it’s definitely reassuring that it’s a step in the right direction for me and my family and many of the other cases that have been coming more and more and more to light about RCMP brutality and people dying in RCMP custody and things like that.”
She said she would like an apology for the fact that it took so long to lay charges and she would like to hear from each of the officers involved in her dad’s death.
“Nobody should die in police custody, whether it’s any kind of crime or anything, nobody deserves to have their life taken,” Namox said.
“And especially in a place where there’s no love, if that makes sense. They have nobody around them. They’re scared and they’re dying. And that’s unfortunate. And it’s really sad.”
According to the Independent Investigations Office, the incident began around 10:30 p.m. on July 18, 2017, as police responded to reports of a man casing parked vehicles in the 1000 block of Central Street West in Prince George.
The IIO said the man reportedly tried to flee when questioned by an officer.
“While attempting to take the man into custody, a struggle ensued between him and the officer and additional officers then arrived. OC (pepper) spray was used,” the IIO said in a May 2020 media release.
“The male appeared to be having trouble breathing and police requested medical assistance. Officers reported that the male was removed from the police vehicle when Emergency Health Services (EHS) arrived and collapsed. The male was pronounced deceased shortly thereafter.”
Cellphone video obtained by Global News shows portions of the arrest. At one point in the video, multiple officers can be seen holding a man down, while later, a single officer can be seen pinning him to the sidewalk.
Const. Paul Ste-Marie and Const. Jean Francois Monette are now facing manslaughter charges.
Const. Arthur Dalman, Const. Clarence (Alex) Alexander MacDonald and Sgt. Bayani (Jon) Eusebio Cruz are facing charges of attempting to obstruct justice.
All of the officers are due for a first appearance in Prince George provincial court on March 14.
In an email, BC RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts said Mounties had fully cooperated with the investigation, but raised concerns about the six years it took for prosecutors to approve charges.
“It put undue stress on the man’s family, our members and their families, and the community which has been looking for clarity and answers on what occurred,” Roberts wrote.
Roberts said Const. MacDonald was currently on administrative leave for reasons unrelated to the charges, while the four other officers remained on operational status.
Namox said it is shocking and hurtful the officers were able to work for the five-and-a-half years that it took to file charges.
She said if the roles were reversed and her dad was facing charges, it would not have taken nearly as long.
“That’s the true issue,” she said.
“I think that’s really behind all of this. That is systemic racism and things like that. If the roles were reversed we wouldn’t be sitting here right now having this conversation because it would have been dealt with. There would have been no issues and the fact that there was and that it wasn’t the other way around and it is the way it is, I don’t think that that’s fair to us or my family or to my dad, that he hasn’t gotten justice yet for that.”
Namox said she will continue to speak out for justice — not just for her dad but for all Indigenous people who may be involved in an interaction with law enforcement.
“That’s still somebody’s mother, brother, son, dad, sister, cousin, whatever. That’s still somebody’s family. That’s still a person. They’re still a human being.”