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Coroner’s inquest set for 2019 Surrey police-standoff shooting deaths

Inquest into the deaths of Nona Marnie McEwen, 45, and Randy E. Crosson, 48, set for April 15
Ron MacDonald, chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Team, speaks with reporters in the aftermath of the shooting in Whalley on March 29, 2019. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

A coroner’s inquest will begin April 15 into the case of a Surrey couple killed during a hostage taking in Whalley on March 29, 2019 which saw roughly two dozen police vehicles, as well as an armoured vehicle, surround a home in a cul-de-sac near 132A Street and 100A Avenue.

The inquest will commence at 9:30 a.m. at the Burnaby Coroners’ Court, on the 20th floor of Metrotower II, with Coroner Margaret Janzen presiding.

“She and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding these deaths,” a provincial government bulletin issued on March 19 reads. “The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances. A jury must not make any finding of legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law.”

The Independent Investigations Team, a Surrey-based police watchdog, in 2020 found the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team blameless in the shooting deaths of Nona Marnie McEwen, 45, and her boyfriend Randy E. Crosson, 48, whom authorities say was holding McEwen against her will.

Nona McEwan. (Facebook image)

Chief Civilian Director Ronald MacDonald of the IIO found McEwen was accidentally killed when she was struck by two police bullets as ERT officers fired on a man who was holding a large knife to her throat and had “what appeared to be” a gun in his hand.

Forensic police later found a “realistic-looking” replica pistol between the bed and the wall.

Neither of the deceased’s names were included in MacDonald’s report but shortly after they were killed they were identified as McEwen and Crosson. He was pronounced dead at the scene and she died in hospital.

READ ALSO: Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

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MacDonald concluded McEwan died because of Crosson’s actions, as he held her against her will in her home, threatened her life, “and provoked an armed response from the police aimed at saving her.” His actions, MacDonald said, “made it inevitable that officers would fire on him when they broke into the bedroom, and who held her in front of him as a shield against police bullets.”

Accordingly, he found, “I do not consider that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.”

The IIO operates out of Bing Thom’s Central City tower in Whalley and reports to B.C.’s attorney general.

MacDonald noted his report was based, in part, on the statements of 25 “civilian” witnesses, seven paramedics and 38 witness police officers. A toxicology report indicated Crosson had methamphetamine, amphetamine, fentanyl, nor-fentanyl, heroin, ethanol, THC and naloxone in his system.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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