‘Best tool for the job’? Public hearing into fatal Victoria police shooting using rubber rounds continues


On day three of the public hearing looking into whether a Victoria Police officer used unnecessary force when he shot and killed a 43-year-old Lisa Rauch on Christmas Day in 2019, the first eyewitnesses were called to testify.

In a meth-induced psychosis, Lisa had threatened to kill the tenant of a supportive housing apartment with a knife, before barricading herself inside the unit. When the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) realized a fire was burning in the unit, the situation suddenly became a deadly dilemma – one that escalated the whole situation.

Const. Cam Steven, one of the GVERT members who was there that night, testified on Wednesday that when his team opened the door, he could only see one to three feet inside the apartment.

“The smoke was creating a wall,” said Steven.

The lawyer for the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC), Chris Considine, described police protocol when an ARWEN is fired. Officers are supposed to have a clear line of sight when they fire an ARWEN, a plastic projectile designed to be a “less lethal” option.

Considine also confirmed that when an ARWEN is fired, officers are supposed to assess before they fire again. Constable, now Sergeant, Ron Kirkwood fired three ARWEN rounds at Lisa in roughly five seconds.

He previously said that he thought Lisa had been standing, aiming at her torso. But, she was sitting at the time. Four days later Lisa was pulled from life support due to blunt force trauma to her head.

Considine also carried out a line of questioning into why a number of other tools available to police – like a taser, bean bag gun, CS gas, or flashbangs weren’t used.

Steven testified that if Lisa had been using a fire accelerator in the apartment, the taser would have created an explosion. He said that the beanbag isn’t very effective, and is actually being phased out. He added that CS gas would have taken too much time to get set up and get approved, given how the fire was pressing timelines.

Steven says using flashbangs, designed for small spaces, could have hurt Lisa.

“It was the best tool for the job,” said Steven, referring to the ARWEN.

Family concerns

Lisa’s family disagrees, given the outcome.

“That makes me think it was used inappropriately and incorrectly,” said Audrey Rauch, Lisa’s mom.

The adjudicator, retired judge Wally Oppal, made a point to ask why Victoria Police didn’t use body cameras, and was surprised to hear they don’t have them. Oppal cited that a legislative committee had recommended “the province aggressively pursue implementation of police use of body cameras” almost 10 years ago in 2015.

Victoria Police says it doesn’t have the money.

“The body cam pilot project was part of the 2023 budget and was not approved,” said Cheryl Major, Victoria Police spokesperson in a statement. “The budget is still under section 27 review, and we have to wait for that process to be completed before we can move forward with either implementing the pilot project, or adding it again to a future budget request.”

This hearing intends to determine if Kirkwood recklessly or intentionally used unnecessary force in shooting Lisa with the ARWEN.

The public hearing is set to wrap mid-May, the adjudicator can make recommendations about police policies.


Kori Sidaway

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