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TORONTO (March 27, 2014) – Incidents involving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) Emergency Response Team (ERT) in Northern B.C. that led to the deaths of three men has raised serious questions about the use of force by the Mounties. On Saturday, March 29 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV GO, and CTV News GO, W5’s “DEADLY FORCE” is a one-hour investigation that takes viewers inside cases where deployment of the ERT ended in tragedy, with calls for coroner’s inquests to determine whether the ERT should face criminal charges. W5 senior reporter, Victor Malarek speaks with the families and others involved in the cases to understand what led to these tragedies by police and how they might have been prevented.
W5 first looks at the death of Rodney Jackson, a 35-year-old from Hazelton B.C. On September 26, 2009, the ERT was sent to Jackson’s remote cabin on Gitxsan Native Territory to arrest him for several outstanding warrants for offences ranging from domestic abuse to drug possession. When his dogs started barking, Jackson went outside with his rifle and was confronted by seven heavily armed ERT officers who fired the shots that killed him. Jackson’s death was ruled a homicide at a Coroner’s Inquest. Jackson’s family contend he was not dangerous and wonder why the ERT was deployed at all. In addition, the use of RCMP officers on Gitxsan territory broke an agreement to consult in advance with the Native government.
Only a few days later, there was another incident involving the ERT, this time in Buick, B.C. On September 30, 2009, the ERT was sent to set up a security perimeter around the home of Valerie George, who had barricaded himself inside his home with a gun. A language barrier caused confusion when George came out of his house to confront the officers, who fired 47 shots. Five hit George, resulting in his death. A Coroner’s Inquest ruled his death a homicide and recommended better training and communications for ERT officers.
In a third case, W5 investigates the death of Greg Matters, an army veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who had returned to his home in Prince George, B.C. On September 9, 2012, Matters called 911 six times after an altercation with his brother. When police failed to respond, Matters became agitated and went to a remote cabin on his property. RCMP decided to arrest him and deployed the ERT, who set up a perimeter around the cabin and used a police helicopter to scout overhead. Despite attempts by his mother and a family friend to help, the incident ended with Matters coming out of his cabin to confront heavily armed officers. They later testified they felt threatened by a small hatchet he was carrying. An attempt to subdue Matters with a Taser failed, but other less lethal options – including a bean-bag gun and a police dog – were not used. One officer fired his rifle and killed Matters.
Inquests that followed each of the ERT killings offered suggestions to prevent future deadly confrontations. W5’s hour-long report examines the training of ERT officers, their communications and their use of less-lethal weapons. W5 also examines why the officer who shot Matters did not have to answer questions posed by the province’s Independent Investigation Office (IIO). Critics say this limits the police watchdog’s ability to properly investigate the actions of the ERT.
W5 also repeats on CTV on Sundays at 4 p.m. ET, and can be seen on Investigation Discovery on Tuesdays at 11 p.m. ET, and Wednesdays 12 noon ET; on demand at CTVNews.ca/W5; the CTV GO App and CTV News GO App, the CTV Mobile channel on Bell Mobile TV, and through video on demand partners, such as Bell Fibe TV (visit CTV.ca for local listings). W5 is also simulcast in Toronto on CFRB NEWSTALK1010.
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