‘The silence is killing me’

Family of South Surrey's Hudson Brooks await answers as the six-month anniversary of his shooting death approaches.

Jennifer Brooks (second from right) visits the memorial to her second-oldest child

Jennifer Brooks (second from right) visits the memorial to her second-oldest child

Jennifer Brooks distinctly remembers the last time she saw her son alive.

It was 4:45 on a sunny Friday afternoon, and she was driving north on 152 Street towards her home after making a quick stop at the bank. Hudson was walking in the opposite direction with a friend, just outside of Sandcastle Fitness.

He saw his mom, flashed his trademark smile and waved.

“He just walked away from me and never came back,” Brooks told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

Less than 12 hours later, only 150 metres away from where he waved to his mom for the last time, 20-year-old Hudson was shot to death by police in front of the South Surrey RCMP detachment.

Six months later, details of what happened in the early morning hours of July 18, remain scarce.

According to police, officers were responding to reports of a man screaming outside the detachment when a struggle ensued. Hudson was shot, and an officer suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Two days later, investigators confirmed that only police-issued firearms were found at the scene.

As the family prepares to mark the six-month anniversary of Hudson’s death, Brooks and her surviving children – Beau, 20, Riley, 19, and Shayla, 16 – say time has done little to heal the pain.

“It feels like just yesterday it happened, but forever since we’ve seen him,” Brooks said.

Brooks described Hudson, who was the second oldest of the family, as an “incredible” kid, with a protective nature, who worked out religiously and cooked dinner for his family every night.

His siblings fondly remember his great sense of humour, noting he carried a football wherever he went and was always up for a game of catch.

They laugh when they recall his crippling fear of raccoons – and how he used to scream when he saw one – and how much time he’d spend on the computer, despite his social, outgoing personality.

Life without Hudson, they say, has not been easy.

“The room seems a little less light without him,” Beau said, noting the holidays were particularly tough in his absence.

Younger brother Riley added, “It’s been a tough six months without him, and waiting for answers is so frustrating.”

The case is under investigation by the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), which investigates incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death.

A spokesperson with the IIO told PAN this week the office is waiting on “third-party reports,” in order to proceed. Further information on the types of reports could not be provided by Marten Youssef, manager of strategic communications, who said those details were “out of our control.”

“The IIO investigation continues to progress and we are working diligently to ensure a comprehensive and competent investigation is conducted in a timely manner,” Youssef said by email.

For Brooks, not knowing what happened the night her son died has made the “horrific” experience that much more painful.

“The silence is killing me,” she said, noting it could be another year before the family has answers.

“I have begged and pleaded. Please give me some answers, give me something.

“They will not give me anything.”

The family does take some comfort in the “amazing” response they’ve received from the community – upwards of 200 people turned out to a march in October to mark the three-month anniversary of Hudson’s death.

Brook notes she has also received support and respect from many RCMP officers in the months since the incident.

“Whoever was with my son that night, they definitely made the wrong choices,” she said. “But there are some amazing police officers out there.”

As the family awaits answers, they hope to focus on celebrating Hudson’s life, as well as giving back to the community that has rallied around them in their pursuit of justice.

A second march is set for Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. – beginning in the 1700-block of 152 Street – and Brooks encourages anyone who wishes to take part to do so in a peaceful manner.

“We will be heard, but only though peace,” she said. “Every step we take brings us closer to justice for Hudson.”

Surrey North Delta Leader