The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has completed its investigation into the July, 2021 death of a Wet’suwet’en man in Campbell River and has sent the file to B.C. Crown Counsel for consideration of charges against three officers.
A press release sent from Pivot Legal Society says that on Oct. 27, “after more than two years, B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has completed its investigation into the 2021 killing of Jared ‘Jay’ Lowndes.”
Lowndes was killed by RCMP officers on the morning of July 8, 2021 in the parking lot of the Willow Point Tim Hortons in Campbell River. During the incident, a police dog was also killed and the dog’s handler was injured. In December 2022, the IIO announced that it would be asking Crown counsel to consider charges against the three officers.
According to an IIO release on the matter, on July 8, 2021 an RCMP officer approached a dark blue Audi just before 5:30 a.m.
“At that point, the Audi’s driver drove away and there was contact between the police vehicle and the Audi. The officer relayed the information to other officers but did not pursue the vehicle,” the release says. “Officers later located the Audi and at approximately 9:00 a.m. stopped the vehicle while at the drive-through window of a business on South Island Highway near Hilchey Road. An interaction then took place between the man and police, during which police fired shots. The driver of the Audi was later pronounced deceased.”
“in order to approve any charges, the BC Prosecution Service must be satisfied that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the IIO, and that prosecution is in the public interest.
“While the matter is with Crown, the IIO will not be making any additional comment about the facts of this case,” the IIO release says. “As releasing the details of the interaction could prejudice a potential prosecution, more information will not be provided at this time.”
This update is the next step in the process, which Meghan McDermott, Policy Director at the BC Civil Liberties Association says is a relief, but “today’s announcement is a reminder that police oversight in B.C. and across Canada is slow, opaque and cannot deliver justice to families. Jared’s family and friends have waited over two years and three months to get to today, and now could wait just as long before finding out whether the prosecution service will approve the charges against the RCMP member(s) for killing Jared. These timelines and processes are egregious and completely undermine government statements about respecting Indigenous lives and ways of being.”
Laura Holland, Lowndes’ mother, says that she is “anticipating another long wait as to whether the Crown will pursue criminal charges against the three unnamed officers still on duty and living in Campbell River. Assuming that the Crown prosecutor will do the right thing and bring criminal charges against these officers, it will be only one small step in proving that Canada is truly invested in ‘Reconciliation.’ We have yet to see reconciliation happen anywhere in Canada, there is lots of talk but we want action.”
Lowndes’ family has been active in advocating for an end to police killings in B.C. and throughout Canada.
“Justice for Jared — and for all of the beloved members of the larger Indigenous family who have been killed by police that should protect them from harm — is essential to our healing and maturation as an honourable community of diverse communities. I appreciate the contributions of the Independent Investigations Office to this work. Now we look forward to prompt and honourable next steps by the Crown,” said Louise Mangan, Lowndes’ former foster grandmother.