After 15 months, Jennifer Brooks has received long-awaited news – that charges are being considered in the shooting death of her son, Hudson Brooks, by police in South Surrey.
“This is a huge step. This is relief,” Brooks told Peace Arch News Friday. “We want to thank all of the community.
“I’m just so over the moon right now.”
In a news release issued Friday morning, officials with the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) announced that a report will be filed to Crown counsel “for consideration of charges” in connection with the 20-year-old’s July 18, 2015 death.
“This is required when the chief civilian director considers that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment,” the release states.
The release does not suggest what charges may be considered, or if they apply to more than one officer. It also notes that the IIO “does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved.”
That decision, the release notes, is up to the Criminal Justice Branch.
“In approving charges, the Criminal Justice Branch must be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but that the commission of an offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt,” the release states.
Hudson Brooks died around 2:30 a.m. on the morning in question, after what police initially described as a physical struggle outside of the South Surrey RCMP detachment. It also resulted in an officer transported to hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound.
Only police-issued firearms were found at the scene.
The victim’s family, friends and others in the community have repeatedly called for justice in the 15 months since his death. Marches and candlelight vigils have been held, a Justice for Hudson campaign was launched and a memorial at the shooting site has been maintained.
Many, including Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Sue Hammell and NDP justice critic Mike Farnworth last March, have criticized the length of time that passed without answers.
It took more than a year for ballistics and other reports necessary to the IIO investigation to be finished. Brooks said she was told in August that her son was unarmed, shirtless and shoeless when he was shot at close range.
The IIO’s review stage began that month and the file was sent to the chief civilian director of the IIO for a decision.
On Friday, Brooks commended the investigators, in particular one who she said delayed leaving the IIO by six weeks to finish the file.
“The IIO has said to me many times that we have been heard loud and clear,” she said.
“We will put pressure on Crown counsel.”
Someone should “absolutely” be charged in the death of her son, she said.
“No one is above the law. You cannot shoot a young, unarmed man… that should never have happened.”
Dan McLaughlin, spokesperson for the Criminal Justice Branch, said in an email that complex cases may take a matter of weeks or months before a decision to move forward with charges.
“The amount of time required to complete the charge assessment process is determined largely by the volume and complexity of the file materials received and the complexity of the charges under consideration,” McLaughlin said.
On Twitter Friday morning, the IIO noted the case is the 125th investigation that has been concluded by the agency since its launch in September 2012.
Of those, 57 resulted in reports to Crown and 68 in public reports. Of the 57 files forwarded to Crown, charges were approved in nine cases, IIO spokesman Aidan Buckley told PAN.
Of the nine, one case resulted in an acquittal, three with findings of guilt and two in a stay of proceedings; court decisions are still pending in five cases.
Buckley noted that charges being laid is not a measure of the IIO’s success. Rather, “completing a competent, independent investigation of an incident which can give British Columbians confidence in police accountability is a measure of our success,” he said.
Surrey RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Scotty Schumann said the detachment will not comment on the investigation and referred media inquiries to the RCMP’s E-Division.
Sgt. Annie Linteau, spokeswoman for the RCMP’s E-Division, said – to her understanding – all officers involved in the incident are currently on active duty.
– with files from Aaron Hinks