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Mounties will not be charged in shooting death of B.C. Indigenous man

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Three Mounties in British Columbia will not face charges in the killing of a 38-year-old Indigenous man on Vancouver Island in 2021.

The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement Tuesday that the evidence was insufficient to pursue charges against any of the officers involved in the death of Jared Lowndes.

"The BCPS is not able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers committed any offence in relation to the incident," the statement from the prosecutors' office said.

Representatives from the office met with the Lowndes's mother, Laura Holland, earlier in the day to relay their findings. Holland said her fight to hold police accountable for her son's death, as well as other Indigenous people’s deaths, will not stop.

"We need to have an inquiry into why police are killing so many Indigenous people,” she told reporters outside the Vancouver provincial courthouse.

“This is not over, I'm not going to stop. I will continue to fight for justice for Jared,” she said. “I will continue to fight for justice for all Indigenous people who have been killed."

Two officers opened fire on Lowndes, killing him in the parking lot of a Tim Hortons in Campbell River on the morning of July 8, 2021.

B.C.'s police watchdog completed an investigation into the Wet'suwet'en man's death and submitted its findings to provincial prosecutors last October.

While the contents of the agency's report remain sealed, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. said investigators found reasonable grounds to charge the officers in the case.

The fatal altercation occurred after police attempted to pull over the father of two on an outstanding warrant, police said shortly after the shooting. As an officer approached, Lowndes allegedly reversed into the police vehicle before fleeing the scene.

The Mountie did not pursue the driver but alerted fellow officers in the area. The suspect vehicle, a dark blue Audi, was located later that morning in the drive-thru lane of the Tim Hortons.

Three RCMP vehicles attempted to box in the car and used a police service dog to confront Lowndes. The prosecution service says Lowndes discharged bear spray at the approaching officers and fatally stabbed the police dog, injuring an officer with the knife in the process.

A Taser was deployed but Lowndes used the knife to cut away the weapon's wires, prosecutors said. Officers opened fire on Lowndes as he exited his vehicle, striking him twice in the back and killing him.

The prosecution service says multiple charges were considered in the case.

Charges of manslaughter and discharging a firearm with intent and/or assault with a weapon were considered against the officer who fired the fatal shots. Charges of discharging a firearm with intent and/or assault with a weapon were considered against another officer who fired at Lowndes but missed.

Charges of aggravated assault and/or assault with a weapon – specifically the police service dog – were considered against the third officer.

The head of the National Police Federation – the largest police union in Canada, representing some 20,000 RCMP officers – said he welcomed the Crown's decision.

In a statement, Brian Sauvé said the officers involved in Lowndes' death had "endured almost three years of uncertainty" since the incident, and that the watchdog investigation and subsequent review by prosecutors had "unfairly put our members' professionalism and reputation under question for far too long."

"We are pleased that Crown came to their conclusion based on evidence and facts," Sauvé said. 

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