Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Watchdog Clears B.C. Police in Deaths Involving Three Separate Incidents

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Watchdog Clears B.C. Police in Deaths Involving Three Separate Incidents

Article excerpt

Three B.C. police officers cleared in deaths

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SURREY, B.C. - British Columbia's fledgling police watchdog has praised the co-operation between his office and police forces around the province, saying his experience at the helm of the agency has been different than what has gone on elsewhere.

"I almost want to say it's remarkable, but it's not," Richard Rosenthal, director of the Independent Investigations Office, said of his five months of working with provincial police forces.

"In Ontario, the first five to 10 years of the special investigations unit, ... a lack of co-operation was constantly reported. B.C. is different. In B.C., every chief was supportive of this program."

Rosenthal is a former deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County and was appointed in 2005 as Denver's first police monitor.

He told reporters Thursday the start of the investigations office couldn't have rolled out better.

Rosenthal made his statements after releasing three reports completed by his office which cleared officers of wrong doing in connection to separate police-involved deaths.

The office concluded there is no evidence that police officers committed an offence in any of the incidents.

Two of the investigations involved RCMP in Surrey, B.C., while the other involved a confrontation with a distraught man in Vancouver.

In the Vancouver incident on Nov. 13, 2012, police used a Taser in an effort to subdue a 33-year-old man who was repeatedly stabbing himself, but the victim later died in hospital.

"They were asked by the individual to shoot him," Rosenthal said.

The first jolt of the Taser was ineffective, but the second Taser strike worked and officers were able to get handcuffs on the man, he explained.

"In my conclusion, the officers did everything they could to try to save this individual from committing suicide. The Taser was the best available tool. …

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