SURREY, B.C. – B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) BC has completed its investigation into the death of a man in the parking lot beside the Merritt RCMP detachment on Dec. 5. The IIO investigation revealed that the man died by a self-inflicted gunshot.
On Dec. 5, 2020, at about 4:40 p.m., officers inside the Merritt RCMP detachment heard a gun shot outside and went to determine the source.
Video from a nearby vehicle and forensic assessment of the scene indicates that the gunfire came from a man who had pulled up in a nearby parking lot and exited his vehicle carrying a rifle. When the officers exited the detachment, they saw the man armed with a rifle pointed in their direction and took cover. The video also shows a vehicle, later confirmed to be a police SUV, arriving around the same time when the man turned his rifle in that direction but did not fire. The police vehicle then retreated.
The video shows that the man then turned the rifle on himself and died as a result of his injury. At no point did any officer discharge their firearm.
The Chief Civilian Director has reviewed the evidence – including video, statements of independent civilian witnesses and scene analysis reports – and determined that the police played no role in the tragic death of the man.
Sgt. Josh Roda, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer, of the Merritt RCMP issues statement
The following is a statement by Sgt. Roda:
“As many of you know, on December 5, 2020 at approximately 4:40 p.m., a major and very tragic incident unfolded, in the Rotary Park parking lot, situated right outside the RCMP Detachment in Merritt BC.
“Sadly a young man lost his life and our officers had to bear witness to this situation as it rapidly evolved. Our hearts hurt with his family and we hope that tragic incidents like this encourage people to reach out for help before it’s too late.
“The public often has the perception that we as the police are essentially bulletproof. That we can go through violent encounters, witness horrible things, that no one should ever have to see, and then simply move on. This could not be further from the truth.
“As my colleague often says,
we put our pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. We are people too. There is no amount of training that someone can receive that would prepare them to witness these unspeakable tragedies or prepare them to be verbally and physically attacked because of the uniform they wear.
“Did most of us know what we signed up for when we joined the mounted police? Yes, of course we did, but that does not make it any easier to deal with.
“As police we witness and encounter horrendous things daily and often deal with people on the worst day of their lives. It’s not an easy task and it takes its toll mentally, on every police officer that has sworn to serve and protect. We are proud of the supports that are available to our police officers and all employees who unfortunately are directly involved in high stress critical incidents or struggle with the everyday stressors and pressures inherent with policing.
“As police officers, and members of the community; our hope is for the public to hold back from casting judgement without facts, and think about those men and women serving their communities that it may affect.
“I ask you to please remember that
we put our pants on one leg at a time, just like you and try to serve the public the best way we possibly can.”
The IIO is the independent civilian oversight agency of the police in British Columbia. It investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.