Public hearing begins into Victoria Police officers actions in fatal 2019 Christmas Day shooting

Lisa Rauch's family attending the public hearing into her death on April 15, 2024.

A public hearing into police actions in the death of a vulnerable person on Christmas Day 2019 began Monday.

Lisa Rauch, 43, died after being shot three times with rubber rounds by a Victoria Constable. Lisa’s family called for the public hearing.

“From the outset, we haven’t been able to get a straight question or answer,” said Audrey Rauch, Lisa’s mother.

Five years ago on Christmas Day, Lisa was suffering a mental health crisis and barricaded herself in a social housing building on Pandora Avenue. Smoke started coming out of the apartment, and Lisa refused to come out.

Lisa was shot in the head by police, with what was supposed to be “less-lethal” rubber bullets, but later died.

Monday, on day one of 15 of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner public hearing being held in Victoria, the 911 call from that day was played.

911 operator: She’s still inside?
Caller: Yes…She did allegedly threaten everybody in the unit with a knife.
911 operator: And you said smashing the house, the unit, apart right?
Caller: Yes, the tenant told me they could hear her doing that from outside the hallway.

Victoria Police broke in, Const. Ron Kirkwood fired three ARWEN rounds, before realizing what he thought was her abdomen had been the back of her head.

Lisa died four days later.

The province’s police watchdog had cleared Kirkwood in 2020 of any wrongdoing.

Lisa’s family, frustrated by what they see as a lack of accountability for her death, called for this public hearing after the Vancouver Police Department found that allegations of misconduct were unsubstantiated.

“How about police investigating police? It can’t happen! You just can’t have another police department investigating another police department,” Ron Rauch said to CHEK News.

Kirkwood is facing allegations of abuse of authority and neglect of duty. The latter is connected to a lack of notes made by Kirkwood, contrary to VicPD policies, but following legal advice and the advice of his supervisors.

The biggest concern for the family is the use of force.

“The one thing I would like to see come out of this? Is that the ARWEN not be allowed to be used in situations like this,” said Audrey. “It’s a riot control weapon. You use it in a prison riot, you don’t go into a tiny little suite and shoot somebody three times in the back of the head from 15 feet away.”

Victoria’s police chief says he supports measures to ensure police accountability, but points to the fact that allegations of misconduct have been looked at three times over.

“This incident has already been reviewed by three levels of oversight…Who all found that there was no misconduct in the use of force in this situation,” said Del Manak in a statement.

Manak says VicPD has made changes to it’s note-taking policy since the incident.

The public hearing is set to wrap mid-May.


Kori Sidaway

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