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Crown rejects charges in B.C. police shooting because of lack of evidence

B.C. Prosecution Service says it can’t prove officers committed offence in 2021 Jared Lowndes death
A memorial was set up for Jared Lowndes at the Campbell River Tim Hortons where the incident took place. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror

Content Warning: this story contains details some may find disturbing.

The B.C. Prosecution Service (BCPS) has confirmed they are not approving charges in the fatal Campbell River police shooting of Jared Lowndes.

The BCPS concluded that the evidence available did not meet their charge assessment standard.

“The BCPS is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers committed any offence in relation to the incident. As a result, no charges have been approved,” a statement from BCPS says.

In the statement, BCPS provided an overview of events as they took place on July 8, 2021. That morning, a member of the Campbell River RCMP detachment stopped to investigate a suspicious vehicle near Campbell River. A license plate search found the owner — Lowndes — had an arrest warrant outstanding for a conditional sentence order breach related to a firearms offence.

The report states the driver of the vehicle reversed quickly as the officer approached, and “sped off through a grassy portion of a park and onto the roadway.”

Another RCMP officer later spotted the vehicle north of Campbell River. Other RCMP members were called to assist, including the on-duty police service dog officer and the dog.

The report says Lowndes drove to a restaurant, where three officers attempted to pin his vehicle in place with their vehicles as he approached the drive-thru window.

“Mr. Lowndes was able to quickly reverse out of the drive-thru lane, then drove at a high rate of speed through the parking lot pursued by (the police service dog officer) in their police vehicle. Lowndes continued to maneuver through the parking lot, reversing and striking another vehicle while trying to find a way out of the parking lot as the police vehicles converged on him. He drove from the back of the lot toward the only exit in the front when his path was blocked by another police vehicle. Mr. Lowndes then attempted to drive backwards through the drive-thru lane but was blocked by the police vehicles.”

The report states “several officers” approached Lowndes’ vehicle with their guns drawn, and they “loudly instructed Mr. Lowndes to ‘show me your hands.’” As two officers approached the car, the report says Lowndes discharged bear spray, prompting the police service dog officer to lift the dog into the car.

“Mr. Lowndes grabbed a large knife from the passenger seat and began stabbing the dog,” the report says. “Mr. Lowndes also stabbed (the police service dog officer) with the knife, resulting in multiple cuts and wounds on their left hand.”

The report says that officers shouted to Lowndes to “show me your hands,” and “come on, give up.” One officer climbed on to a police vehicle and aimed their firearm at Lowndes through the front windshield.

“During this time Mr. Lowndes is heard saying things to the effect of ‘You’re going to have to f——-g kill me’ and ‘I’m not coming out, just f——-g kill me,’” the report says. “In response, a Taser was deployed twice; however, it appeared to have no effect on Mr. Lowndes. He used the knife to cut away the Taser wires.”

“Mr. Lowndes moved to the passenger side of his vehicle with the knife still in his hand. Officers shouted, ‘drop the knife, drop the knife,’” the report says. “Mr. Lowndes opened the passenger door and pushed PSD Gator out. PSD Gator was pulled away from the car by a police officer and died at the scene.”

Lowndes emerged from the car, still holding the knife, the report says. Shots were fired by two officers “almost simultaneously,” two shots hit Lowndes, mortally wounding him, and one other missed. Lowndes died at the scene.

BCPS uses a two-part test to determine whether charges are approved: whether there is a “substantial likelihood of a conviction” and whether the public interest requires a prosecution.

The charges considered were, for the first officer, manslaughter, discharge of a firearm with intent and/or assault with a weapon. The charges considered for the second officer were for discharging a firearm with intent and/or assault with a weapon, the third were aggaravated assault and/or assault with a weapon (the police dog).

The report says that the officers were acting in the course of their duties, had reasonable grounds to perceive that Lowndes posed a risk to himself or others.

“The central question in this case is whether the force used by the three officers was objectively necessary, reasonable, and proportionate in the circumstances,” the report says.

The report cites Lowndes’ use of bear spray as a “significant escalation of violence,” and says the use of the police dog was a “direct response to the risk.” The report also says that “the officers reasonably believed that if Mr. Lowndes exited the vehicle still armed with the knife, there was a significant risk he would harm them or others.”

“Considering all the circumstances, the Crown would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was unnecessary, unreasonable, or disproportionate. Therefore, there is no substantial likelihood of conviction in relation to any of the proposed charges,” the report concludes.

The full 11-page report is available online here.

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Lowndes file referred to Crown; 3 RCMP officers could face charges

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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