As seen on CTV News Vancouver by Alison Hurst, 18th September 2019.
Charges against an RCMP officer in relation to a fatal shooting outside a Surrey detachment have been stayed, the BC Prosecution Service announced Wednesday.
In 2017, Const. Elizabeth Cucheran was charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after a young man was shot and killed two years earlier.
Hudson Brooks, 20, was shot outside the RCMP’s Surrey headquarters in the early hours of July 18, 2015, after police responded to reports of a man screaming, the Mounties have said.
“This is a travesty of justice, this is a joke to our system,” cried Jennifer Brooks, Hudson’s mom. “It’s a shock. It really is a shock to hear what happened to my poor boy. To be killed that way. And then just the charges dropped.”
At the time, the RCMP said officers rushed outside and spotted the man, a struggle ensued and he was shot.
But on Wednesday, BCPS released more information about what happened that night, from the preliminary hearing.
According to the documents, an officer radioed saying “I need help now! I need help now!” Cucheran responded to find Brooks had “started to hammer at the driver’s door and window.” The officer who radioed said he felt Brooks wanted to “seriously harm or kill him.”
Cucheran yelled, “stop,” the documents go on to say, and eventually Brooks turned his attention on her. He “continued to move towards Const. Cucheran, who was stepping back, firing as she did.”
The documents also say Brooks tackled her and there was an altercation. That’s when the lethal shot was fired. In total she fired 12 shots, nine struck Brooks and one hit her own leg.
They go on to say that multiple eye and expert witnesses changed their testimony “significantly,” and the prosecutions service conducted its own investigation.
That lead them to believe Brooks was suffering from an “excited delirium or cocaine psychosis” which is “characterized by extreme agitation, hyperthermia, hostility, exceptional strength and endurance without apparent fatigue.” Documents confirm drugs and alcohol were in his system.
“Even the use of a taser would not have been very effective on the individual,” said SFU criminology professor Rob Gordon. “It is a condition that results in somebody becoming virtually uncontrollable and incoherent.”
Gordon said while it’s controversial, someone experiencing the condition is not going to feel as much pain as others.
“Based on a careful review of new material received and consideration of an additional expert report, the BCPS has determined that the available evidence no longer satisfies the charge assessment standard for the continued prosecution of (Cucheran) for any criminal offence,” BCPS said in a news release.
In 2017, the prosecution service said the long delay between the incident and charges being laid was a result of the complexities of the evidence and requirement for further investigation and analysis.
For Brooks’ family though, the decision is a major blow.
“How is this acceptable behaviour, how is this acceptable in this society? It’s not,” said Jennifer Brooks.
“Hudson needed help. He came down this way for help. And what did he get? He got nothing. He got murdered,” said his grandmother, Donna Gauti. “We’ll get our justice, hopefully, in the end when it’s all said and done.”
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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