Alleged armed robber found dead near Lake Cowichan, prompting IIO investigation

Alleged armed robber found dead near Lake Cowichan, prompting IIO investigation
Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC

An alleged armed robber found dead inside a vehicle near Lake Cowichan on Tuesday has prompted B.C.’s police watchdog to investigate whether RCMP actions or inactions led to his death.

Mounties received a report of an armed robbery at a business north of Duncan on Nov. 29 at approximately 2:30 p.m., according to North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP in a release.

Police soon spotted a black Toyota Tacoma, the vehicle the robbery suspect was alleged to have been driving, in Duncan but lost sight of it around 3 p.m., the RCMP told the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO).

Officers then located the vehicle around 4 p.m. parked in an eastbound lane on Highway 18, about five kilometres east of Lake Cowichan, the IIO says.

The Island District RCMP Emergency Response Team was on scene, and while no movement was detected inside the vehicle, around 4:45 p.m. police approached it to find one man dead with “what appears to be self-inflicted wounds,” RCMP say.

“The IIO has commenced an investigation to determine what role, if any, police actions or inactions may have played in the death,” the investigations office added in a news release Wednesday.

Just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, DriveBC tweeted that a “police incident” on Highway 18 between Highway 1 and Youbou Road was forcing the stretch of highway to close in both directions, with delays likely for drivers.

The highway was cleared around midnight.

Anyone with information or video footage regarding the incident involving the man who died is asked to contact the IIO via its witness line at 1-855-446-8477 or the form on its website.

The IIO is the independent civilian oversight agency, or watchdog, of police in B.C. investigating all officer-related incidents resulting in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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