Port Alberni RCMP not responsible for man’s drowning, IIO says

Port Alberni RCMP not responsible for man's drowning, IIO says
File photo
IIO BC says the Port Alberni RCMP officers were attempting to save a man's life on Nov. 28, 2019.

An update from B.C.’s police watchdog says the Port Alberni RCMP officers who responded to an incident that resulted in one man drowning were not at fault for the man’s death.

RCMP said at around 3 a.m. on Nov, 28, a local business reported an unclothed man, covered in blood, had just left the store and was cleaning himself off in a nearby carwash.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. said officers attended and found the man, but he fled on foot and entered a tributary of the Port Alberni inlet.

The officers then went into the water to help the man but were not successful.

The IIO said their investigation showed the police had responded to the call with the intent of obtaining medical assistance for the man.

“He responded by running from police and entering the water,” the IIO bulletin released Monday said.

“Two officers, one after the other, without regard for their own safety, entered the frigid water in attempts to save the male, who ignored officers and moved further out from shore. Both officers had to return to shore due to the impact of the cold water on their bodies.”

The man’s body was recovered approximately one hour later by search and rescue crews using cold-water recovery equipment.

“There is no evidence to indicate the actions of police were responsible for this tragic death. More accurately their efforts were an attempt to save his life,” IIO said.

The man’s identity has not been made public.

The IIO is the independent civilian oversight agency of the police in British Columbia. It investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.


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