Family still awaits decision on West Kootenay police shooting

Peter de Groot was killed by the RCMP in 2014 near Slocan

Did the RCMP act improperly when they shot and killed Peter de Groot in a cabin near Slocan?

That question still hasn’t been answered by the Internal Investigations Office (IIO) after almost three years of investigation.

The IIO are called to investigate whenever a person is killed by police, but the De Groot family’s lawyer told the Star this week that the time being taken in this case is exceptional.

“It is extraordinarily long,” said lawyer Don Sorochan. “It’s the longest outstanding IIO investigation I have seen.”

On October 9, 2014, West Slocan resident De Groot, 45, was involved in an argument with someone, apparently over an eviction notice. RCMP went to the scene, where De Groot allegedly fired a shot at them before fleeing into the bush. The resulting manhunt and its tragic outcome grabbed national headlines and generated enormous controversy.

When the Star asked the IIO’s Aidan Buckley last week about the delay, he repeated exactly what he said in a similar interview in October 2016: it’s a complex investigation and therefore it takes time.

He said that the investigation is complete but must now undergo an internal review in which the director will decide whether one or more officers committed an offence, which he also said last October.

Buckley said a decision could be “weeks to months” away.

Last year the De Groot family filed a lawsuit against the RCMP, alleging that police actions were “militaristic and aggressive” and that “there were no efforts at de-escalation” even though the police knew Peter de Groot suffered from a cognitive disability.

Sorochan says the court action is being held in abeyance until the IIO makes a decision. His next steps will be determined by the conclusions of the investigation report.

IIO investigations always end in the exoneration of the police officer or in a referral to the crown for criminal charges.

Related stories:

Search for armed man continues in Slocan (October, 2014)

2014’s to stories #3: The death of Peter de Groot (December, 2014)

LETTER: De Groot family speaks on anniversary of death (October, 2015)

Sister of man killed in Slocan sues RCMP (October, 2016)

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