(Prince George BC / unceded traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation): On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, the family of Dale Culver learned of the BC Prosecution Service’s decision to approve charges against five RCMP officers involved in his 2017 arrest, detention, and death.
Dale Culver, a member of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Nations, died while being detained by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Prince George on July 18, 2017. Dale was a beloved son, brother, friend, and father to three children when he was killed.
On January 16, 2018, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed a complaint to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP regarding the police involved death of Dale Carver. BC’s Independent Investigations Office (“IIO”) investigated the circumstances of Culver’s death and determined that reasonable grounds exist to believe that two officers may have committed offences in relation to the use of force, and three others may have committed offences regarding obstruction of justice. The IIO’s completed review was initially referred to the BC Prosecution Service for charge approval in 2019, but the IIO investigated further in 2020 after “additional lines of inquiry were identified and followed,” sending a final and expanded report in May 2020.
In anticipation of several trials, Dale Culver’s family remains unwavering in their calls for justice for Dale. Advocates such as the BCCLA will continue to rally support and mobilize to bring attention to the urgent crisis of police violence that disproportionately targets Indigenous communities throughout BC and Canada.
“We cannot shake off the devastation until justice is done,” said Virginia Pierre, Dale’s aunt who raised him. “This is hard on every single one of us. And we hurt each time we see police involved deaths in the news. It happens way too much. Too many have died in the hands of the RCMP. The police are supposed to protect us, not kill us.”
“Dale should not be a memory for us. He has many loved ones missing him. His youngest child was less than 6 months old when Dale was killed, and she will be turning 6 years old in a few weeks,” said Debbie Pierre, Dale’s next of kin. “It has taken too long to get to this stage, and we know that we are still at the beginning of our quest for justice for Dale. We hear that there may be a court hearing by mid-March related to the charges, and we know that it may take many more years before any court decisions are made.”
“It is unacceptable to wait almost 3 years for the BC Prosecution Service to review the IIO’s report and make a decision about charges,” said Meghan McDermott, Policy Director with the BC Civil Liberties Association. “Such delays exacerbate the stress and pain that Dale’s loved ones are already experiencing and contributes more generally to public distrust of policing agencies and the oversight mechanisms purported to hold them accountable.”
“We have been in the dark throughout much of this process,” said Lily Speed-Namox, Dale’s eldest daughter. “We want the public to know how difficult it has been for us since my dad was killed. We are making plans amongst ourselves to speak directly to the press in the coming weeks as we prepare for court proceedings to begin.”