IIO says Castlegar/Slocan shooting investigations in final stage
Two long-standing investigations, the length of which have caused some outrage in the region, may finally be drawing to a close, according to Independent Investigations Office acting director of public engagement and policy Marten Youssef.
Both investigations involve officer-involved fatal shootings, the first of Slocan resident Peter de Groot on Oct. 13, 2014 in the Slocan Valley and the second of Yahk resident Waylon Edey on Jan. 28, 2015 in Castlegar.
The investigative delays have, in effect, left RCMP officers the subject of open murder investigations for years at a time, while denying the families of the deceased legal closure.
Youssef said today (Wednesday) that the bulk of the investigative work has now been completed and the investigations are in the final stage.
“The last stage is the review by the Chief Civilian Director,” he said, adding the director will then determine whether and offense has been committed and either refer the case to Crown Counsel or exhonerate the office in question via a public report, to be published on the IIO website.
Youssef said there’s no way to accurately predict a timeline for the director’s recommendation.
“If the director determines an investigative step has been missed, he can go back and request it may be done,” he said. “Those are complex cases, for sure, and I would not put a time or calendar date on them.”
The IIO has come under fire for investigative delays in the past, including a Source column in January of this year (see https://castlegarsource.com/news/rant-are-investigative-delays-form-torture-against-cops-loved-ones-and-public-large-40263#.WD-BmLnW7gU ).
The IIO has acknowledged the problematic nature of the delays via many media interviews, and most recently in a communique sent out regarding the Slocan/de Groot file:
“We regret that our investigation has taken this length of time to complete and can understand how such delays can cause distress to families, police and to the community. We cannot justify this delay. We do want to provide context that speaks to the complexity of this investigation.
“This incident is one of the most complex cases the IIO is investigating. It involves a number of scenes, a remote location, limited civilian witnesses and lack of video footage. In light of all of these factors we are utterly reliant on a scientific reconstruction of the scene. This analysis is extraordinarily complex and has been undertaken by an external scientific expert. This is in addition to a number of significant reports carried out by forensic experts.
“Furthermore, 178 investigative tasks have been completed in this file and a large number of documents have been reviewed. The review of these documents and notes take a considerable amount of time. As with all of our cases, there is a chance that this case may end up in court so it’s vital that all of the investigative material can withstand scrutiny from the highest court.
“In addition to the complexity of this file, it is one of 59 open cases and one of 23 officer-involved fatalities under investigation by the IIO.
“The bulk of the investigative work is now complete and an internal review of the file is now underway.”
Watch The Source for continuing coverage of these two investigations.