The sister of the man killed in Slocan last week made an emotional statement on behalf of her family Monday, saying the police overreacted and “executed” her brother.
Danna de Groot read a 10-page statement at a news conference in Vancouver that recounted her oldest brother’s decline in health and independence after suffering an aneurysm and numerous seizures from which he never fully recovered.
Dana and another brother Miles were in Slocan the morning Peter de Groot was found and shot by police. Danna had two separate interviews with the RCMP about Peter after she drove from Vancouver to Slocan when she heard of the search for her brother.
“Why was my repeated request to be brought in to Peter should any stand-off type situation occur ignored and our efforts disregarded?” Danna asked. “I went to the RCMP at their command central where I met the lead investigator and spoke at length with him. I reiterated my request to bring me to wherever they were so that if anything happened I could talk to my brother. I offered both times to ‘walk into the bush to get him’.
“My brother was spotted in a remote cabin in the wilderness. Four days in the bush without food or water. He had not committed any serious crime. He was weak and could have been sleeping on his front with his gun. The ERT ‘interaction’ was that they open fired and killed my brother.”
“He was executed.”
The police incident began on October 9 when Slocan Lake RCMP responded to a dispute between two individuals on Slocan West Road near Gravel Pit Road. While on scene, de Groot allegedly fired upon police with a rifle before retreating into the surrounding forest. No members of the public nor RCMP officers were injured.
Police searched for de Groot, 45, for five days while residents were told to stay in their homes with doors locked as RCMP considered the suspect to be armed and dangerous. RCMP locked down the Village of Slocan for three days.
De Groot was found on October 13 by the ERT team and killed.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC is investigating the incident. RCMP and the IIO have said little about the details of de Groot’s death other than he “sustained a gunshot injury during an interaction…In addition, a firearm was found at the scene.”
While the incident is under investigation, RCMP have declined to make any public statements about the case.
During her public statement Monday, Danna detailed de Groot’s intelligence and education which included completing an undergraduate degree in political science, a master’s degree in political theory and acceptance to a PhD program at Purdue University. But after an aneurysm in 1997 followed by surgeries and six gran mal seizures, Peter’s family supported him to be able to live independently.
“The area of his brain where he had the aneurysm was the region controlling peripheral vision and his senses and that was compromised,” said Danna. “He worked very hard to gain back coordination skill, but his brain did now function differently. His body was so ravaged over time that it was easy to judge him as a person he was not.”
Peter’s cousin Teo de Groot wrote to the Star the day after his death.
“Peter did suffer traumatic brain injury, and his mental state did slowly worsen, leading to this most tragic situation. There is a great deal of misinformation in the media about Peter, some of which appears to be based on things Peter has told people about himself, which are untrue. I grew up with Peter, although after a traumatic brain injury, and ensuing deterioration of his behaviour, to the point of death threats against me and several members of the family, we are no longer close.
“The Peter many of us are choosing to remember is the lovely young man who we knew before he fell ill. Peter was intelligent, friendly, loyal, and funny. He could always find something positive in bad situations.
“This is not sentimentality, but the person we lost as his injury slowly took his sanity. Nobody would suspect him of meeting such an end. At the moment, the most important people are his father, Peter, who lost his wife (Wilhelmina) and son within the past year and a half, and his siblings.”
While the de Groot family is hoping for a coroner’s inquest, the BC Coroners office said it’s too early to say if there will be one.
“We will first wait until the IIO investigation is concluded as well as having all information gathered before the Chief Coroner makes a decision as to inquest,” the office said.
The de Groot family plans to start a fund or foundation in Peter de Groot’s name. They say the conclusions of the hoped-for inquest may prompt them to file a civil suit.
VIDEO: Tearful de Groot family, Peter’s sister Danna slams RCMP