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No charges for police who shot Indigenous man in B.C. parking lot: family

Watchdog referred file to crown to consider charges, Lowndes family told charges will not proceed
Jared Lowndes’ brother Sean Holland holds an urn carrying Lowndes’ remains in front of the RCMP station in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror

Three RCMP officers who killed an Indigenous man in a Campbell River parking lot nearly three years ago will not be charged, according to a group working on behalf of the victim’s family.

Jared Lowndes died the morning of July 8, 2021 in the parking lot of the Willow Point Tim Hortons after police officers opened fire. During the incident, a police dog was also killed, and the dog’s handler was injured.

The Independent Investigations Office forwarded the file to Crown counsel in October of 2023, recommending the consideration of charges against the trio.

But, according to a release from the Defund 604 Network, on April 23, the B.C. Prosecution Service told family a case would not be proceeding. The three officers involved have not been identified publicly.

“I don’t know where to start: I have relived the day my son died, replayed what I’ve heard and been told secondhand. Over and over, I’ve been told that the police were ‘fearful for their lives,’” said Lowndes’ mother Laura Holland, who has been actively pushing for charges.

“They were fearful when they rammed into his vehicle, they were fearful when they released a police service dog into his car, they were fearful when they shot my son repeatedly. I’ve held the clothes he wore that day, I’ve seen the bullet holes. Every step of the way, I’ve had to fight. To hold those clothes. To hold police and government accountable. That fight won’t stop today.”

Holland, other family members and supporters have scheduled a media event in downtown Vancouver this afternoon

“The decision of BCPS cannot be decontextualized from the broader impacts of police brutality,” a release from the Defund 604 Network says. “In B.C. alone, there have been at least 22 police-involved deaths of Indigenous people, based on data compiled by Tracking (In)Justice, a Living Data Set Tracking Canadian Police-Involved Deaths & Deaths in Custody. That is at least 22 families whose realities have been forever altered by fatal police violence.”

Jeff Shantz, critical criminologist, said there are systemic injustices of police accountability in B.C.

“It is all too rare that there is even minimal accountability for police officers who kill in Canada. According to a 2020 report, charges were laid or forwarded to Crown prosecutors for consideration in only three to nine per cent of the cases undertaken by the provincial agencies,” Shantz said. “The situation in B.C. reflects this inadequacy of oversight.

“Between 2012, its first year, and early 2023, the IIO has investigated 220 deaths and recommended that charges be laid in only 14 cases. In fiscal year 2021-2022, the IIO received a total of 323 notifications, for all incidents, but referred only 12 to Crown. Even worse is the record of the Crown in BC, where they have only actually taken one case to trial so far, declining charges in almost every case the IIO has brought to them.

“By contrast, more than three quarters of charges recommended by police last year were approved. We know that prosecutors develop close relationships with and become dependent on police. This must change.”

Holland and Lowndes’ daughters have filed a civil suit against the Campbell River RCMP. That suit is on hold until criminal proceedings conclude. No inquest has been scheduled at this time.

Meanwhle, the National Police Federation (NPF), which represents RCMP members across Canada, issued a statement supporting the decision to not charge the officers.

“The National Police Federation welcomes the Crown’s decision that exonerates Campbell River RCMP members on their actions following the stabbing and injury of a member and killing of a police service dog which resulted in the death of the subject civilian,” said Brian Sauvé, president and CEO of the NPF. “Our members have endured almost three years of uncertainty since they were forced to defend themselves and their community on July 8, 2021. As we said at that time, if the subject civilian had turned themselves in peacefully, not injured a member, and killed a police service dog, the events of that tragic day could have evolved very differently. Members involved also believe the public deserves the truth and clarity on this critical and life-changing event.”

More to come…

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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