The family of 35-year-old Aaron Lee Prince is pleased with seven recommendations a jury handed down Friday, aimed at preventing a similar police shooting deaths from happening again.
“I’m just happy that this has come to an end and we got some good recommendations out of it. Our family can feel at ease,” said the victim’s sister, Michelle Prince.
It all began when a police dispatcher sent officers to Highway 19 and the Little Qualicum River Bridge to help Prince, who had stabbed himself in the chest.
It was the morning of October 12, 2017.
Prince’s friend had been driving him to meet an ambulance but when police officers, Staff Sgt. Marc Pelletier and Cpl. Ryan Rooke of the Oceanside RCMP, they encountered Prince who was acting psychotic.
A violent fight ensued and the officers testified they feared for their lives as Prince overpowered them and tried to get their guns.
Both officers ended up shooting Prince.
The officers did try to use a taser on Prince but it didn’t make contact with his skin.
Even so, the jury is encouraging the increased use of tasers “as a non-lethal alternative to other methods or tools for control of a person.”
It also wants “crisis intervention training and de-escalation training” every year instead of every three years.
And further, the jury recommends the expanded inclusion “of mental health clinicians on RCMP mental health calls.”
“Had these recommendations been in place prior to my brother’s situation, I think it would have changed, so I’m hoping that if these do get implemented that other families don’t have to go through what our family’s been through,” Michelle added.
Prince had been taken to the emergency room in Nanaimo by the RCMP three days before his death because his girlfriend said he was seeing things that weren’t there.
Prince was assessed and released.
He was found to have cocaine in his system.
The jury is recommending “all physicians in B.C., particularly those in institutional settings such as emergency rooms, have enhanced training in sensitivity to, and treatment of, various mental illnesses in patients.”
They jury is also calling for:
- More timely inquests after a person’s death
- Improved communication and clarity be established around criteria for restraint use for persons at risk for harm to self or others, in order to transport to an appropriate facility.
- 911 call takers to request a caller to stop their vehicle instead of allowing the caller to continue to travel while in distress or in potential harm’s way.