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RCMP Agrees to Release Videotape of Willey Death

VANCOUVER – The RCMP has agreed to release the videotape and investigation file of the in-custody, Taser-related death of Clayton Alvin Willey, following a public demand by the BCCLA and UBCIC.

Representatives of the force will be meeting with the family and their lawyer Simon Wagstaffe in the next two to three weeks to review the full investigation file along with the videotape.

If the family agrees to release the footage, the RCMP has agreed to release the video to the public in its entirety. The video is compiled from security camera footage of Clayton Alvin Willey’s interactions with RCMP officers in Prince George in 2003, hours before his death and was reviewed by UBCIC, the BCCLA, forensic pathologist Dr. John Butt, and Vancouver writer Leonard Cler-Cunningham.

“We are pleased to hear the RCMP is doing the right thing now, but deeply concerned it took so long to act,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “The RCMP need to be more timely in their responses to FOI requests and demands for transparency if they wish to shake the perception the public has that they wish to avoid accountability for in-custody deaths.”

Prior to yesterday’s media event, the family had provided a notarized release to the RCMP authorizing them to release the video, but the RCMP had refused to release the record citing privacy concerns. Cler-Cunningham, who discovered the existence of the video and pursued its release, had filed an FOI request supported by the family that had been turned down by the force.

“If the family decides to release this footage to the public, we believe it will sway public opinion to the point that our politicians must act to improve police accountability in BC,” said David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “Seeing footage of a hogtied man being Tasered repeatedly, and knowing that the RCMP investigation called those actions ‘routine’, will surely show that the system we have simply is not working.”

Media Contacts:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC – (250) 490-5314
David Eby, Executive Director of the BCCLA – (778) 865-7997
Dr. John C. Butt, Forensic Pathologist – (604) 738-0878
Leonard Cler-Cunningham, writer – (604) 298-7585