Sister of B.C. man killed in police manhunt sues over use of lethal force
The RCMP released two photos of 45-year-old Peter DeGroot of Slocan, B.C. (B.C. RCMP South East District)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, October 13, 2016 4:23PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 13, 2016 7:28PM EDT
VANCOUVER -- The sister of a man shot and killed by police at the end of a manhunt in Slocan, B.C., is suing the provincial and federal governments over the RCMP's handling of the incident.
Peter de Groot died on Oct. 13, 2014, days after police said they responded to a dispute between neighbours and he fired a shot at officers before running into the forest.
But the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court by Danna de Groot alleges police fired the first shots and officers caused or contributed to a chain of events that led to her brother's death.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
A Justice Department spokeswoman confirms it was served with the lawsuit, but couldn't comment further because the case is before the courts.
A spokesman for the Attorney General's Ministry says no legal documents had yet been received and that no comment would be made.
The suit says both governments are liable for the actions of the RCMP, which is federally and provincially funded.
The statement of claim says de Groot was highly educated but in 1997 suffered a brain aneurysm affecting his cognitive abilities and that his actions could be misinterpreted by people not familiar with his condition.
It says de Groot's sister told police she could help them reach a peaceful resolution by calming her brother, adding police said they would conclude the incident but then didn't attempt to de-escalate the situation.
The statement says the woman tried to clear up misinformation about her brother circulating in the media and that it appeared to be coming from police, including that her brother was a trained military marksman.
"In fact, his near blindness in one eye would have rendered him ineligible for any military service."
The lawsuit says the RCMP version of the event at the time said an emergency response team found de Groot in a remote cabin and that he was lying on his front with a gun pointed at officers when they opened the door.
"There was no attempt at any de-escalation before a forced entry into the cabin, and lethal force was used on Peter," the statement says.
The application of lethal force on de Groot was not justifiable and his death was wrongful, it says.
The lawsuit asks for expenses, damages, and declarations that de Groot was deprived of his charter rights and that police employed a disproportionate use of lethal force on a person with a cognitive disability.
A statement from de Groot's family says it's been two years since he was taken from them by a bullet fired by a police officer, and they still have many questions about the circumstances surrounding his death.
The statement says they are awaiting a report from the Independent Investigations Office, the agency that investigates police-involved deaths, before they say more about the shooting.
"It is our hope that Peter's death will not be in vain and that learning about what happened to him will mean that others who have similar challenges will not die."