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‘Devastated’ mom, police watchdog disagree with withdrawal of charges against officer in Surrey killing

The article below involves a young man, Hudson Brooks who was unnecessarily killed by a Surrey RCMP officer, Cst Elizabeth Cucheran.

A member of the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society has previously interviewed an off-duty Surrey Detachment RCMP officer, who advised of the internal story among fellow officers. Please be advised that the while the source is reliable, the following is to be considered second hand information. The internal narrative was that Hudson Brooks was in fact already under the control of other officers already at the scene and was no longer a threat. Cst. Cucheran arrived to the scene after Brooks was already under control. She unnecessarily drew her weapon, shot herself in the knee, and as a response to the pain/shock of her self-inflicted wound, fired 11 more rounds, 9 of which into Hudson Brooks. Hudson Brooks was so fatally wounded that he was unrecognizable and Hudson’s Mother, Jennifer Brooks was prevented from viewing his body. A subsequent cover-up has ensued by the RCMP with an altered narrative to justify the use of force in this situation.

Unlike all other provinces in Canada, under BC’s current wrongful death legislation, only family breadwinners currently have worth under our antiquated 174 year old law. With especially children, seniors, the disabled, and in the case of Hudson Brooks, there are not enough damages available under BC’s current discriminatory Family Compensation Act to cover the costs of a civil trial. Hudson’s Mother Jennifer, has now been robbed of the ability to uncover the truth and obtain justice for her son not only in criminal court, but also in civil court as well. This has left victim families powerless in seeking justice against wrongdoers, and in preventing the same sort of incidents from happening in the future.

Please petition your MLA to make your voice heard in supporting the modernization of our wrongful death laws in BC»

The article begins below…


Written by Susan Lazaruk for the Vancouver Sun
Publishing date: September 19, 2019  •  4 minute read
Original link to this article is here.

 

The dropping of charges against an RCMP officer who shot dead a 20-year-old Surrey man has left his mother “devastated” and the independent agency that oversees police fatalities disagreeing with the decision.

Charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon against Surrey RCMP Const. Elizabeth Cucheran have been stayed, the B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement released Wednesday.

The charges in the death of Hudson Brooks, 20, who was shot nine times by Cucheran in the summer of 2015, were approved by the Crown in December 2017, and a year after that the officer was committed to stand trial.

In the nine months after the end of the preliminary hearing in December, the Crown reviewed the testimony of an expert witness who told the hearing the officer was not justified in firing her weapon as early as she did and should have used a Taser instead.

In the review, the Crown called in “several use of force experts, including two retained by the defence,” said the statement.

The original expert witness, who told court Cucheran and a fellow officer “put themselves at a disadvantage as they got too close to Mr. Brooks when he turned toward them,” recanted his testimony and agreed with the other experts, it said.

“Based on its review of this matter, the BCPS recently determined that the available evidence no longer satisfies the charge approval standard for a prosecution of Const. (Elizabeth) Cucheran for any criminal offence,” according to a “clear statement” released by spokesman Dan McLaughlin.

The clear statement concluded that evidence at the preliminary hearing “significantly weakened the foundations of the Crown theory” that Cucheran could have used a Taser against Brooks.

“The Crown is now of the view that the evidence strongly establishes that resort to her firearm was entirely reasonable in the circumstances,” it said.

‘He just banged on the window and the hood (of the RCMP vehicle),’ a tearful Jennifer Brooks said of her late son, Hudson, on that fateful day in July 2015. ‘He was wearing boxer shorts. He didn’t have a weapon. My son only carried a football if he carried anything at all.’ ARLEN REDEKOP/PNG

It said the Crown “was obliged to reassess the evidence” partly because the original expert “conceded that Mr. Brooks was likely suffering from ‘excited delirium’ and that this had significant implications for the use of force options that were available to Const. Cucheran.”

“The expert agreed, contrary to his initial opinion, that Const. Cucheran did not make a mistake in initially drawing her pistol,” it said.

“When charges were initially approved, there was no reference in the expert reports to the possibility that Mr. Brooks was in a state of excited delirium or what the implications of this might be for the assessment of the reasonable of the force used by Const. Cucheran,” it said.

“The fact of excited delirium significantly raises the risk Mr. Brooks posed,” the statement said.

The Crown said excited delirium is also known as “cocaine psychosis” and refers to “a state of extreme mental and physiological excitement, characterized by extreme agitation, hyperthermia, hostility, exceptional strength and endurance without apparent fatigue.”

A family photo shows Hudson Brooks, 20, with his mother, Jennifer. Hudson died after being shot by police on July 18, 2015. FACEBOOK/Jennifer Brooks

The charges were recommended by the Independent Investigations Office, “an independent civilian run body that investigates police in circumstances where the actions or inactions of police may have led to the serious harm or death of any person.”

“We believe this investigation provided the Crown with evidence that supported a trial in this matter, and continue to believe that,” Ron MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, said in an email. “We have a disagreement with the Crown on their analysis of the law and facts in the matter.”

MacDonald told Postmedia News that Brooks exhibited signs of excited delirium wouldn’t have had an impact on charge recommendations.

He said the decision on charges rests with the Crown.

Standing in the parking lot of the South Surrey RCMP detachment where her son was killed, an emotional Jennifer Brooks said, “We’re so devastated. I feel so bad for Hudson. My son was not armed, my son did not have shoes or shirt on. You cannot justify how my son was killed.

“He just banged on the window and the hood (of the RCMP vehicle),” she said. “He was wearing boxer shorts. He didn’t have a weapon. My son only carried a football if he carried anything at all.”

On July 18, 2015, 20-year-old Hudson Brooks was shot and killed by an officer outside an RCMP district office in Surrey. FACEBOOK PHOTO

 

Memorial site for Hudson Brooks, who died July 18, 2015 outside Surrey RCMP detachment. ARLEN REDEKOP/PNG

Brooks, who was expecting to attend Cucheran’s trial in December, learned the charges were being stayed — which means they will be dropped without further evidence in a year — on Wednesday morning in a meeting with the Crown.

“I felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat,” she said. “We had to sit through the preliminary trial, which was horrendous, to hear what happened to my son. And then go through (last) Christmas thinking we were going through Supreme Court and then being told now, no.

“They said for the first couple of years one story and then they changed their minds.”

On July 18, 2015, Brooks appeared outside the Surrey detachment and began screaming. He was believed to be suicidal at the time. He had consumed significant quantities of alcohol and cocaine and was vandalizing vehicles, according to the Prosecution Service.

Officers went outside, where a struggle ensued and Brooks was shot.

Cucheran fired her pistol 12 times, hitting Brooks, who was unarmed, nine times, the Crown said.


Original link to the article is here.

Please petition your MLA to make your voice heard in supporting the modernization of our wrongful death laws in BC»


About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.


Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Attorney General of British Columbia, David Eby, is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Eby receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, John Horgan.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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