Family of Jared Lowndes sue RCMP over 2021 shooting death in Campbell River

Family of Jared Lowndes sue RCMP over 2021 shooting death in Campbell River
The RCMP logo is seen outside the force's 'E' division headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 16, 2023. Family members of a man shot and killed by the RCMP have filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court the day before the two-year anniversary of his death.

It has been two years since RCMP officers shot and killed Jared Lowndes at a Tim Hortons in Campbell River, B.C., but his mother Laura Holland says time has done nothing to stem her grief.

“It doesn’t feel like two years has gone by. Every day it feels like it was yesterday,” Holland said Friday, after filing a lawsuit against the unnamed officers involved in the incident on Vancouver Island. “I keep trying to do different things and I keep trying to find different ways of healing or moving on and it seems impossible to move on or heal.” Lowndes’ children and Holland are now suing B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and four John Doe members of the RCMP, claiming damages arising from his death on July 8, 2021.

“I need to find out exactly what happened that day and why,” Holland said. “Why did my son end up dead at Tim Hortons?”

Cpl. Alex Bérubé with the B.C. RCMP said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the lawsuit since it’s now before the courts.

The lawsuit, filed the day before the two-year anniversary of Lowndes’ death, alleges police were negligent when they boxed his vehicle in and let loose a police dog that jumped in through the window.

Lowndes ended up stabbing and killing the animal before being shot dead.

At the time, Campbell River Mounties said they tried to stop Lowndes’ vehicle because he had an outstanding arrest warrant.

The RCMP said Lowndes fled before being located in a parking lot of a business on the South Island Highway.

The lawsuit says the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia, which probes police-involved deaths, referred the case to Crown prosecutors in December 2022, believing charges may be warranted against three Mounties over the use of force.

Lowndes’ family say they’ve suffered great anguish since the killing, developing depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress after losing the care, guidance and financial support the Wet’suwet’en man provided while he was alive.

The family’s lawyer, Neil Chantler, said Lowndes’ death was a “senseless killing” and there were many unanswered questions about how police handled the situation.

Chantler said Lowndes had outstanding warrants at the time of the incident, but they were “historic” and related to a years-old firearms charge requiring him to provide a DNA sample.

He said the family is now waiting to see if Crown prosecutors will recommend charges against the officers and get answers about what exactly happened that day.

“The family has been kept in the dark largely about the circumstances that led to his death,” Chantler said on Friday. “The matter is still in the criminal process and, as you can imagine, the Independent Investigation Office has to be very tight-lipped.”

Chantler said the identity of the officers involved remain unknown, but will become public either through the criminal or civil process.

Chantler said he believed “the police created a hectic, presumably terrifying scene,” where the Indigenous man was beset upon by a police dog and multiple officers.

“We don’t know exactly what happened,” he said. “Apparently, video footage will emerge that will paint a very clear picture of what happened in the moments before his death.”

Four days after Lowndes was shot, the National Police Federation, which represents RCMP members, released a statement expressing sympathies to Lowndes’ family and friends.

“If Mr. Lowndes had not, however, evaded police, stabbed (a police service dog) and injured an RCMP officer, and instead turned himself in to the courts to comply with a warrant for weapons offences, he could be alive today,” federation president Brian Sauvé said.

Holland said she’ll mark the two-year anniversary of her son’s death at an event in East Vancouver’s Grandview Park Saturday afternoon, where she’ll be joined by others whose family members were killed by police.

“Police are supposed to be there to help all of us, they’re supposed to be there to protect all of us, and clearly they’re not,” Holland said. “What I would like to see is a huge change in policing. It is my hope that they will stop shooting us, for one thing. They will stop killing us. We will stop seeing Indigenous families and nations across this country who are just devastated by these continuous killings.”

Darryl Greer, The Canadian Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2023. 

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