After months of work, B.C.’s police watchdog says it has submitted its report to Crown Counsel outlining reasons and evidence why the prosecution service may want to consider criminal charges against three RCMP officers in the fatal police shooting of Jared Lowndes in 2021.
The Indigenous man was shot and killed by police in Campbell River while sitting in his car outside the Willow Point Tim Hortons on Highway 19A on July 8, 2021.
At the time, police said they were looking for Lowndes who was connected to an outstanding warrant.
When his vehicle was spotted outside the Tim Hortons, “a police officer boxed in the vehicle and then a confrontation occurred between the suspect and the police officer, who had a police service dog,” RCMP said in a release at the time.
The police dog handler suffered a knife wound, the dog was fatally stabbed, and Lowndes was fatally shot.
The incident drew outcry from Lowndes’ family who felt like police used excessive force – particularly against an Indigenous man – and who later launched a lawsuit against the RCMP over his death.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. also launched a review of the shooting, and in December 2021, it said it would be filing a report with Crown Counsel saying it could consider charges against three officers for use of force.
“This is the beginning,” said Lowndes’ mother, Laura Holland, after the IIO said it would be filing the report last December.
“This is the beginning of the fight that’s going to last a long time, this is the beginning of a fight where we are going to ask for changes to policies, we’re going to ask for changes to laws, because there are far too many Indigenous people being shot and killed, murdered by the RCMP and different police forces across Canada,” she said.
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On Friday, IIO director Ronald J. MacDonald reiterated that after a review of evidence, there are reasonable grounds to believe that three officers “may have committed offenses in relation to various uses of force.”
IIO media communications liaison Simon Druker says the organization appreciates the public’s patience as teams prepared a report for the BC Prosecution Service.
“It was a lengthy and complex investigation and it required some time to put the disclosure package together,” said Druker.
He noted that the IIO added resources since December 2022 to try to speed up the process.
“We obviously regret the frustration that this delay, and any delay, can have for the family of the deceased, and the public, and the community and we’re always trying to decrease the time it takes to complete reports,” said Druker.
B.C.’s police watchdog adds that in order for any charges to be approved, the BC Prosecution Service must first believe that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction, based on the evidence submitted by the IIO – and that prosecution is in the public interest.
With the matter now before the Crown, the IIO says it won’t be sharing any further details on their investigation.
“As releasing the details of the interaction could prejudice a potential prosecution, more information will not be provided at this time,” said the IIO in its statement Friday.
The IIO is tasked with investigating all police-involved incidents that result in serious harm or death, regardless of if there have been allegations of wrongdoing.
- Family of Jared Lowndes sue RCMP over 2021 shooting death in Campbell River
- Campbell River Mounties who shot, killed Indigenous man Jared Lowndes could face charges: IIO
- Suspect killed in shooting at Campbell River Tim Hortons, police dog fatally stabbed
With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz