Canada’s police union, the National Police Federation, made a statement on Wednesday in response to the July 8 shooting of Wet’suwet’en man Jared Lowndes in Campbell River.
The federation represents the roughly 20,000 RCMP members across the country, and is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada. Brian Sauvé, NPF president, made a statement that the union sympathizes with the Lowndes family, but that the “Campbell River RCMP response protected residents, community and officers.”
He went on to accuse Lowndes of evading police and not complying with a police order. A police dog was also fatally stabbed in the incident, and an RCMP officer was injured.
Sauvé continued, saying that of the average three million calls for service responded to by the RCMP, less than 0.1 per cent result in the use of force.
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said he “totally reject(s) that self-serving effort to whitewash this very brutal and vicious attack on an Indigenous man who was completely boxed in by police vehicles.”
“Police agencies are notorious for circling the wagons and issuing these meaningless statements attempting to whitewash these vicious attacks on Indigenous people and people of colour,” Phillip added.
The Mirror has not been able to independently verify the nature of the warrant in the case, with both the B.C. Prosecution Service and the Campbell River RCMP unable to comment.
According to B.C. Court records, Lowndes received a speeding ticket in September in Vancouver. The matter was before the court on May 28, and was deemed not disputed. Lowndes was also involved in a theft of over $5,000 in 2004 and served one year of probation.
Sauvé added that the federation supports the Independent Investigation Office of B.C. (IIO)’s investigation into the incident and “would like to emphasize that it is critically important their review is conducted without speculation and supposition regarding the outcome, and free from undue or inappropriate external influence.”
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was unavailable for comment. In an emailed statement, the ministry said that “everyone deserves to be treated fairly in our province. Ensuring the police are accountable to the highest standards for fair and unbiased conduct is crucial to maintaining public trust.”
The province has established a committee to reform the Police Act. That committee has a focus on “areas that disproportionately affect racialized and marginalized people.”
The report is expected by April 28, 2022.
However, Phillip said the watchdog investigation does not go far enough.
“Quite frankly we’re fed up, we’re sick and tired of burying our people as a consequence of being shot and killed by police forces across this country,” said Phillip. “It’s absolutely unacceptable and it’s completely out of control.
“Our people are dying at the hands of the police. It’s intolerable.”