The civilian oversight agency looking into the shooting death of a 16-year-old north of Creston says it will be months before it concludes its work and decides whether an RCMP officer was justified in firing his gun.
“We’ve had our forensic team and investigative team on scene,” said Ron MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office, in an interview.
“We’ve done a great deal of forensic analysis thus far of the vehicles involved. We’ve done trajectory analysis of the shots that were fired. We’ve interviewed witnesses and will be interviewing more. We’ve done a forensic examination of the entire scene.”
Last week, an officer was investigating a pickup truck parked in a driveway in the 3400 block of View Road at 3:35 a.m.
According to police, when the officer got out of the vehicle the truck reversed and struck the officer, who then fired his weapon. The truck left the scene but was found about 10 minutes later near Highway 3A and Mather Road in a ditch with the driver suffering from a gunshot wound.
The boy received first aid but died at the scene.
“We do have some very useful evidence at this point,” MacDonald said, although he declined to go into specifics.
“We do have some witness evidence, but we’re being general about that, because we don’t want to impact the memories of any other persons we may not have had a chance to speak to yet or who may not yet have come forward.”
MacDonald said they want to hear from anyone who has evidence that might be relevant, either of the incident, or something prior, including any video footage.
The identity of the officer involved has not been revealed. While police said he was taken to hospital, they have not said how badly he was injured. MacDonald said he has no specific information on the officer’s condition, but believes he has since been released.
The teen’s name and hometown have not been revealed either, but MacDonald said he does not believe the boy lived where the incident occurred.
Police didn’t reveal what drew their attention to the pick-up truck, but MacDonald said those details are a “critical part” of their investigation.
Once their probe is complete, a report will be presented to MacDonald, who will determine if there are grounds to believe a crime has been committed. If he agrees there are, the matter will be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges. If he feels the officer’s actions were justified, a public report of the findings will be released, explaining how MacDonald came to that decision.
However, investigations are rarely speedy.
“Unfortunately, that is the case,” MacDonald said. “In particular in this one we’ll have to wait for reports from third parties such as the firearms report and the autopsy report, which do take time and are beyond our control.
“It takes time to pull this together, analyze all the different aspects, perhaps discuss where we need to go next and follow up where necessary.”
He noted the details provided by the RCMP on the incident have not been independently verified.
“We may speak to those particular facts over the next few weeks once we’ve had an opportunity to verify whether they’re accurate,” he said.
The IIO was created in 2012 as an independent body to investigate incidents involving police officers in BC that result in death or serious harm. MacDonald is a lawyer who has been practicing for 38 years and has never belonged to a police force.