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Campbell River RCMP under review after motorcycle collides with patrol car

Dec 03 2012
Richard Rosenthal, director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C., speaks to reporters last December in Vancouver. Attorney General Shirley Bond looks on. 

Richard Rosenthal, director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C., speaks to reporters last December in Vancouver. Attorney General Shirley Bond looks on.

Photograph by: Nick Procaylo , Postmedia News

Actions by Campbell River RCMP are being probed by civilian investigators after a motorcyclist suffered serious injuries in a collision with a police cruiser Sunday.

The man was speeding and not wearing a helmet when officers tried to pull him over on Evergreen Road at about 2:05 a.m., according to information from the newly formed Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

The civilian-led group was formed this year and for three months has been scrutinizing police throughout the province when people die or are injured in encounters with officers.

Spokesman Owen Court said he does not know the extent of the motorcyclist’s injuries, but the man was taken to Campbell River Hospital.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority said the motorcyclist is in serious condition, a description given for patients who are acutely ill and might have unstable vital signs.

Details about how the crash occurred were not released.

“My understanding is that the individual collided with the police car,” Court said. “We’re not sure yet how it came about.”

Police regularly stop speeders on the busy and increasingly dangerous road, said area resident Debra Castle. She woke up about 3 a.m. and could see the lights from police cars flashing outside her home near the intersection of Elk River Timber Road.

“I’ve seen my share of accidents out here,” she said. “I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve seen about half a dozen of them.”

Five members of the Independent Investigations Office arrived in Campbell River about 6 a.m., marking the first time the team has tackled a case on Vancouver Island.

While they conduct their review, the Mounties will continue with their investigation and determine what charges, if any, they plan to recommend.

This latest incident is the 10th case taken on by the investigations office, which officially opened its doors in Vancouver on Sept. 10. That same day, investigators opened their first case after a man was shot and killed during standoff with police in Prince George.

One file has been completed so far. The office announced on Nov. 14 that Penticton RCMP actions were not linked to the serious injuries a woman suffered when she jumped from her apartment balcony on Sept. 21.

Officers responded to a call about a person in distress and arrived just as the woman jumped.

The civilian-led oversight body was designed to restore the public’s faith in how police investigations are conducted.

Retired justice Thomas Braidwood recommended that the B.C. government create the unit after conducting an inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who died after being tasered by RCMP officers at the Vancouver International Airport in 2007.

Similar groups exist in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Premier Christy Clark appointed Richard Rosenthal as director of the office, which has approximately 60 staff members, including about 36 investigators.

Rosenthal earned a reputation for being a fair but tenacious critic of wrongdoing by police officers when he set up and operated oversight offices in Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado.

About half the investigators in his office are civilians and half are retired police officers, but Rosenthal plans to slowly alter that ratio to reduce the number of former cops.

“We are creating our own new culture here,” he said when the office opened. “It’s different from anything that’s ever existed anywhere, certainly in B.C., certainly in Canada and probably anywhere in the world. We have a good, solid mixture of experience, expertise, philosophies and cultures that will make this office fair and unbiased, regardless of what the circumstances are.”

dspalding@timescolonist.com

Map shows location of collision in Campbell River

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