RODNEY JACKSON’S death was ruled a homicide and 13 recommendations were made to help prevent another death after the jury in the coroner’s inquest into his death finished its deliberations after three hours late yesterday.
Jackson, 35 at the time of his death, was shot while members of a RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) were trying to arrest him at a remote hunting camp about 70 kilometres outside of Hazelton in Sept. 2009.
The term homicide is one of five classifications of death used by the provincial coroner’s service and is used in the context of fact finding, not finding fault or blame.
The five-person jury returned to the courtroom late last night after five days of testimony and the foreman read out the findings and recommendations.
The jury said Jackson died of a “gunshot wound to the chest due to or as a consequence of police action (RCMP, ERT)” at noon Sept. 26, 2009 at Wrinch Memorial Hospital in Hazelton.
The jury recommendations are as follows:
“We recommend to the RCMP that all police vehicles be [equipped] with a standardized comprehensive first aid kit;
We recommend to the RCMP that all incident commanders or ERT be fully trained in ERT tactics;
We recommend to the RCMP that each ERT member be fully trained in team leadership skills;
We recommend to the RCMP that the RCMP utilize communication systems that work effectively in remote areas;
We recommend that the RCMP adhere to covenants made between the RCMP and the First Nations in the Public Safety Co-operation Protocol dated April 25, 2008;
We recommend that the BC Ambulance Service provide rural/remote communities with vehicles capable of offroad driving;
We recommend to the BC Ambulance Services that policies be reviewed to ensure air ambulances are available in a timely manner to support police action where the possibility of danger exists;
We recommend to the RCMP that consideration be made to utilize the Aboriginal Conflict Management Team and/or the Crisis Negotiator Team whenever planning an ERT action in an aboriginal community;
We recommend to the government of British Columbia that once an investigation into a police involved death has been completed that it be reviewed by an independent body to ensure the integrity of the investigation;
We recommend to the BC government that the independent investigation office should be implemented in an expeditious manner;
We recommend to Crown counsel that protocol be established whereby public safety statements be collected from every member of the ERT involved in an incident resulting in death and that such statements cannot be used against a member in a trial;
We recommend to the RCMP that detachments with relationships with aboriginal communities ensure a liaison officer presents regular reports to the governing bodies of their respected bands;
We recommend to the RCMP that they ensure mental health service is available for all ERT members to utilize when involved in a police action.”
The inquest heard from 27 witnesses ranging from RCMP officers to members of the BC Ambulance Service.
Police had been looking for Jackson for approximately one year before receiving information that he was at the hunting camp.
They also believed him to be armed and considered dangerous, according to information released after his death.
Evidence at the inquest indicated Jackson did have a long weapon in his possession at the time of his death.
Jackson had been wanted on outstanding warrants tied to charges of violence in relationship assault, uttering threats, obstructing a peace officer, trafficking of controlled substances, failure to attend court and a family court matter, police said at the time.