IIO Receives Decision of Petition in Relation to fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Vancouver (IIO 2016-224)

Posted October 18, 2018

INFORMATION BULLETIN
Independent Investigations Office
For Immediate Release

Surrey – The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has received a decision from the British Columbia Supreme Court regarding its petition in relation to the IIO’s investigation into the death of a male in Vancouver. The petition sought an order for seven Vancouver police officers to cooperate fully with the investigation by attending interviews as directed.

The IIO began its investigation into a fatal officer-involved shooting involving the Vancouver Police Department on Thursday November 10, 2016 at the Canadian Tire store near Rupert Street and Grandview Highway in Vancouver.

During the investigation, an issue arose surrounding the meaning of the Police Act provisions which require a witness officer to “cooperate fully” with an IIO investigation. As a result the IIO filed a Court petition in March 2017 seeking an order for the witness officers to appear for interview. The petition was heard in February 2018.

In its decision the Court has fully supported the IIO’s petition. Chief Civilian Director, Ron MacDonald notes that, “This decision has strongly reaffirmed the importance of civilian oversight of policing”.

Three paragraphs of the Court’s decision emphasize the importance of the duty to cooperate:

[136] An obligation to cooperate fully with the IIO must be an essential element of the functioning of a police oversight agency that exists to investigate police-related fatalities and incidents involving serious harm. If cooperation by the witness officers is discretionary, the goal of the IIO is diminished or extinguished. There will be no arm’s-length investigation of an incident if it is at the discretion of the witness officers.

[144] The witness officers’ statutory obligation mandates that they have a public legal duty to act, in particular to cooperate fully with the petitioner (IIO). This obligation requires them to cooperate fully in the context of a legislative scheme that was intended to provide an independent and transparent investigative body for the purpose of maintaining public confidence in the police and the justice system…

[149] … The witness officers cannot withhold cooperation based on assertions that the proposed interview timing inconveniences them, or that the proposed IIO interviews will not be conducted in accordance with the terms that the witness officers consider appropriate for pre-interview disclosure, or that assurances as to the potential derivative use of their accounts is not satisfactory to them.

The Court’s findings mandate that the witness officers in this matter must attend for interviews at the direction of the IIO.

Mr. MacDonald added the following: “This decision now helps to bring clarity to certain legislative provisions that were previously the subject of different interpretations. It is important to emphasize that the police agencies of British Columbia have consistently demonstrated to me that they support the important role of civilian oversight. We have daily examples of excellent cooperation between police and the IIO in this province. This decision will only help to foster that ongoing cooperation.”

Decision

Background

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.

info@iiobc.ca