A candlelight vigil planned for Monday outside the Surrey RCMP detachment offices at 152 Street and 18 Avenue will mark one year since the shooting death of South Surrey resident Hudson Brooks, 20 – at the place that he was shot.
Organized by family and friends, the 7 p.m. event is not simply a memorial to Brooks, according to longtime friend Bailee Pearson.
“A year later, we still don’t know what happened,” she said. “There has been no closure. There was one police statement issued last November, and since then, nothing.”
The circumstances of Brooks’ death are still under investigation by the Independent Investigations Office – which investigates police-involved incidents that result in death or serious harm – and police have said only that an altercation took place in the early morning hours of July 18, resulting in the shooting of Brooks and non life-threatening injuries to an RCMP officer.
Fuelling speculation, investigators subsequently confirmed that only police-issued weapons were found at the scene.
Friends and family have rejected the initial police statement on the shooting that described Brooks as “suicidal.”
“There should be more done – there needs to be more pressure put on the IIO. (The police) haven’t even issued an apology – they haven’t said anything,” Pearson said.
IIO communications and stakeholder relations liaison Aiden Buckley said Thursday morning that the agency is awaiting just one more ballistics report in the investigation.
He would not speculate on when that report would be complete but acknowledged there is frustration with how long it is taking to get answers.
“In consultation with the third party, the IIO is working to expedite the report because we understand these cases are taking too long to be resolved,” Buckley said by email.
Buckley reiterated other factors in the delay that were shared with PAN by IIO officials in the spring, including a caseload “which has been impacted by a spike of officer-involved shootings and police-involved fatalities throughout the province, which began in September 2014 and continued for the better part of a year.”
In that time period, there were 20 fatalities, he noted.
“While timeliness is a priority for us, our focus on conducting competent investigations will not be sacrificed,” Buckley said.
Pearson said the unanswered questions are only compounding the grief for Brooks’ family and friends.
She said she and Brooks met during Grade 8 at Brookswood Secondary in Langley, and that they stayed in touch when he and his family moved to South Surrey.
“He was a good friend of mine…he kept me safe from bullies in the school hallway,” she said.
“He was really caring and kind. Even after he left Brookswood he would still come back to visit. This is a boy who would pull over to the side of a road to get a ticket.
“They said he was suicidal – he wasn’t. He was a healthy, happy 20-year-old boy.”
Pearson said the ‘Justice For Hudson’ campaign will continue until all the facts are known, including a public march that is tentatively scheduled for September.
– with files from Alex Browne