After more than a year of waiting, Jennifer Brooks now knows some of the details about what happened the night her son, Hudson Brooks, 20, was shot and killed outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment.
But – rather than lessening her grief – it’s only increased her determination to continue her Justice For Hudson campaign, she told Peace Arch News.
And the keynote of the campaign will now be calling for charges to be laid in connection with his death, she vowed.
Brooks said she was visited by an investigator with the Independent Investigations Office of BC on Wednesday afternoon, who shared some, but not all of the information uncovered in the investigation of the incident in the early morning hours.
“What we know for sure is that one officer pulled out his gun and shot him at close range,” she said, adding she was given only limited information, in case the investigation becomes the subject of a court proceeding.
The investigator could not share how many times Hudson was shot (Brooks has heard from many witnesses that there were multiple shots) or how a female RCMP officer was wounded in the incident – although police confirmed shortly afterwards that only RCMP-issued firearms were present at the scene.
What Brooks does know is that her son was unarmed when he was shot.
“He didn’t have a shirt on, he didn’t have shoes on. He just had shorts – he’d been down at the beach. The shorts didn’t have pockets in them.
“He was in distress. He’d gone to a party and something had gone wrong. He was having a bad night. Everybody has a bad night once in a while.”
Brooks acknowledged that her son had been drinking, but noted that drug use was not part of his exercise-oriented lifestyle.
On his way home on foot, he had hit a couple of car side mirrors, she said.
“That wasn’t in character for Hudson,” she said.
From the scant information she was told Wednesday, she has pieced together a picture of the incident that took place outside the RCMP detachment.
People had seen Hudson walking down the middle of 152 Street and someone had put in a 911 call, she said. One police car responded and pulled up, but the officer called for backup and did not get out of the car.
When a second police car arrived, Hudson had approached it and banged on the roof of the car and on the driver’s side window, she said. The officer inside did not leave the vehicle but two officers walked out of the detachment.
“Hudson ran up to them,” she said. “One officer pulled out a gun and shot him at close range.”
Brooks – who said she had imagined the shooting was the result of some kind of struggle – said it makes Hudson’s death even harder to understand, or live with.
“Where was the de-escalation training with this officer?” she said, adding it’s her understanding that police on the scene didn’t physically touch Hudson or attempt to restrain him.
“You can’t just shoot a young man and walk away.”
Brooks emphasized that she has been impressed by the caring of RCMP officers she has dealt with since her son’s death.
“I’m not on a witch-hunt – I just want justice for Hudson. But if they think we’re just going to sit there and accept this, it’s not going to happen.”
She noted that ballistics reports for the IIO investigation, that were due in September, were finished by Aug. 5 – something she attributes to the amount of media attention generated by the candlelight vigil held outside the detachment this July 18.
“We will march again on Sept. 18, and that’s when we’ll be demanding charges be laid.”
Marten Youssef, acting director of public engagement and policy for the IIO, said all reports the office was waiting for have now been received.
“We are now in a review stage of all of the material that has been collected,” he said.
Following the review, Youssef said the file will be sent to the chief civilian director of the IIO for a decision. According to the police act, if an officer may have committed any offence, the file will be sent to the Crown for a decision. If no offence has been committed, a public report will be written clearing the officers involved.
As for when the review will be completed, Youssef said it’s difficult to say.
“But of course we are working around the clock to make sure that this file is handled in a timely and competent and thorough matter.”
– with files from Matthew Hoekstra