IIO chief says too many cases going without charges

IIO chief says too many cases going without charges
Photo: Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC

Jared Lowndes was shot and killed by police during a dramatic traffic stop in a Campbell River Tim Hortons parking lot in July 2021.

He had stabbed a police dog to death before officers shot him.

Then, last October, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), a civilian organization that investigates police-related deaths and serious injuries, concluded that three officers should face charges.

But last week the BC Prosecution Service announced the officers would not be charged “because the available evidence does not meet the BCPS’s charge assessment standard.”

IIO Civilian Chief Ron MacDonald says it’s just the latest in a troubling trend of charges not being laid.

“These numbers are such that they do, I believe, ask for questions to be answered and looked at,” he said.

READ PREVIOUS: BCPS will not approve charges against RCMP officers in death of Jared Lowndes

MacDonald says he’s recommended charges in 39 cases in the last five years but only 18 times did the BC Prosecution Service pursue charges against police.

Since the IIO’s inception in 2012, about 15 cases have gone to trial however none of the contested charges have led to a conviction.

“I believe that when the public sees numbers such as this, the low charge approval rate, the failure to get convictions in contested matters, that they’re going to lose faith, and some have told me that they are losing faith in the ability for the system of accountability to work,” MacDonald told CHEK News.

Jared Lowndes was a Wet’suwet’en man, and First Nations leadership in B.C. wonders why there weren’t charges in that case and others involving indigenous people.

It’s now calling for an inquiry into indigenous deaths at the hands of police.

“You know we relied on the IIO for a number of years with limited success,” said Grand Chief Steward Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “We do commend him for challenging the decision but this is a systemic problem right across Canada.”

Attorney General Niki Sharma says she’s meeting with Ron MacDonald this week.

“You know, I think people have to have confidence in the justice system and that we are addressing issues when problems arise and particularly Indigenous people that have suffered kind of the tough hand of the justice system for so many years,” Sharma said.

The BC Prosecution Service did not respond to CHEK News’ request for an interview Monday.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!