BCCLA reacts to Independent Investigations Office appointing civilian review of Matters case

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VANCOUVER – Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, reacted this afternoon to the appointment of a civilian monitor to review its investigation of the shooting death of Gregory Matters by RCMP in Prince George:

“In October of last year, the BCCLA, Pivot and Justice for Girls called on the IIO to appoint an independent review of its investigation into the Matters case. We did this because the IIO’s public report into the circumstances of Mr. Matters’ death left out description of a key detail, revealed in evidence at a coroner’s inquest, that he had been shot in the back, not the chest, by the RCMP. We asked for the review in order to ensure the highest public confidence in the IIO.”

“Last Friday, the IIO released a revised public report into Mr. Matters’ death explaining the discrepancy as an issue of terminology, and saying they would take measures to improve their descriptions in future. The Chief Civilian Director also said that he would not appoint a civilian monitor. We are surprised and encouraged that, a few days later, the IIO has reversed its decision and has appointed a civilian reviewer of its work in the Matters case.”

“We think that this is the right step to take to keep public confidence in the IIO. If mistakes were made, the independent monitor will be able to review them, understand them, and report on them to the IIO. We hope that this will help the IIO in its commitment to achieving the highest possible investigative standards. We also say that the civilian monitor’s report needs to be made public, so that the affected family, the police, stakeholders and the public will be able to understand what happened in this case, and what if any measures need to be taken to improve investigations in the future.”