EDITORIAL: We need to be informed

Many important questions have stayed unanswered in the immediate aftermath of an officer-involved shooting in South Surrey.

It was a ‘worst-case’ scenario, right from the beginning.

An officer-involved shooting confrontation outside the detachment offices at 152 Street and 18 Avenue in South Surrey left a young man dead and an RCMP officer wounded.

That much we know from the scant information released by the RCMP following the early Saturday morning incident.

We were told that a “suicidal” man was screaming outside of the offices, that a physical struggle ensued and that the man was shot. We were told that an officer had also received a non-life-threatening gunshot wound in the incident.

But it took until Monday to receive confirmation from the RCMP’s Independent Investigations Office – which has taken over investigation of the incident – that only “police-issued equipment” was found at the scene.

An online update posted that evening seems to suggest the young man – who we have since learned was Hudson Brooks, 20 – was unarmed.

No further comment on the circumstances, including how many officers were on the scene and how many shots were fired, has been forthcoming.

We all have reason to mourn the loss of a young life in what appears to be a senseless tragedy. Under any circumstances, a natural response to such loss – particularly for those who knew the deceased – is feelings of anger. But this is where a worst-case scenario gets even worse.

Because the silence of investigators in such cases is almost guaranteed to fuel such anger. Hearing nothing else, residents will be quick to jump to conclusions and listen to rapidly spreading rumour. Some of the anger, justly or unjustly, will end up being directed at the police – as we can see from comments already posted to the article on the Peace Arch News website.

We all understand police caution about making premature statements regarding ongoing investigations. Ill-advised comment cannot only be wrong, it can compromise investigations and can be the basis of lawsuits and legal appeals.

Yet it appears, from observing similar incidents in other jurisdictions, that the public are far more likely to receive cogent news releases elsewhere than in our own backyard.

When the IIO notes that the incident is the sixth officer-involved shooting under investigation since April 1, it seems clear that they understand the public has concerns about the proliferation of such incidents.

But there is a big difference between understanding and acting to ease them through quick and effective public relations.

Just Posted

Findlay to be next CPC candidate for South Surrey-White Rock

Former cabinet minister lost 2017 election to Liberal Gordie Hogg

Teenage girl, 17, accused of stabbing girl, 16, in Surrey

Victim’s injuries not life-threatening

Fledgling Surrey City Orchestra tunes up for showcase concert Friday

Conductor Stuart Martin’s four-year goal is to build a core group of about 60 Surrey-based musicians

Fraser Health to buy two private MRI clinics in Surrey, Abbotsford

New clinics will provide 2,000 more MRIs by fiscal year-end

Safe Surrey Coalition opposes removing any property from ALR

McCallum and Pettigrew take issue with a Port Kells proposal to exclude property from the Agricultural Land Reserve

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye salmon

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

Fraser Valley horse trainer suing feed mill after death of five animals

Alicia Harper seeking $500,000 to $1 million in losses and damages from Hi-Pro Feeds

Most Read