Tracey Matters wants to know why police chose to shoot and kill her brother Greg Matters on Monday, even though he wasn't in possession of a firearm.
“Why was it necessary to use lethal force on a man on his own property who was not holding and did not have a firearm?” Tracey Matters said at a news conference Thursday afternoon in front of the home where Greg, 40, was living on Pinko Road in Pineview. “Why wasn't my brother allowed to talk to his doctor, his mother or family friends during the standoff when this was requested?”
Greg, a 15-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when he was killed after a 30-hour standoff with the RCMP's Emergency Response Team (ERT) on the farm adjacent to the home where he was living. The shooting is currently being probed by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), a newly created provincial agency that examines police-related deaths. Tracey also wondered why the RCMP made the decision to deploy the ERT team and why the team didn't wait longer before deciding to shoot.
“All they needed was more time,” she said during an emotional 15-minute media briefing. “Most importantly, why is my brother Greg no longer with us?” Tracey, who grew up in Prince George, has been living in Australia for 20 years and flew back after hearing of her brother's death. The IIO has been keeping the Matters family updated on their investigation, but Tracey said few details have been forthcoming so far other than the fact it could take months before the watchdog releases its findings. Tracey was close to her brother and she spoke with him earlier on the weekend about Greg's planned trip to Australia in November. She said Christmas was his favourite time of year and she had been looking forward to hosting him for the holiday this year.
“He was really looking forward to a Down Under Australian Christmas,” she said, adding there were no signs of abnormal behaviour during the conversation. “It was very upbeat, we talked about his visit to Australia and how I was going to do a man-makeover. He was really looking forward to me taking him shopping and he was looking forward to going out to the theatre and exploring restaurants. . . . It was the type of conversation I normally have with my brother.” Tracey said her brother didn't take drugs, but that he was on medication for a back injury he suffered during his military service in Bosnia. He was also receiving treatment from Dr. Greg Passey from the Operational Stress Injury clinic in Vancouver for PTSD. “He was making tremendous progress, finding his voice and looking forward to his university studies,” Tracey said, noting he was planning to study psychology and philosophy by correspondence. She said although it took a while from him to start getting the treatment for PTSD, he improved once he was under Dr. Passey's care. She hopes her brother's death shines more of a light on the condition. “I would like to see a raised awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and the symptoms and the treatment and ensure that returned servicemen and servicewomen get the support they need when they return from service,” she said. Greg had reached out to the Citizen last week, wanting to talk about his previous run-ins with the RCMP as well as his battle with PTSD. In an exchange of emails with an editor and reporter as late as Monday morning in the middle of the standoff, he talked about how he was both fearful of police and angry at the authorities. Tracey said Thursday she wasn't able to comment on those incidents. “I don't have firsthand knowledge of what happened and I can't comment on those dealings, I'm really sorry,” she said. Greg was killed on a piece of property he owned with his brother. He had been working on restoring a home on that property as both a place for him to study and a place for guests to stay when visiting the family. He wasn't married and didn't have any children, but his sister said with the progress he'd been making in dealing with his PTSD that could have been about to change. “I'd say he was nesting and ripe for a relationship,” Tracey said. “A girlfriend, a relationship, was certainly in the cards for him. He was looking forward to settling down.” She said she'll remember her brother as a generous and kind man who was always bringing home new plants and flowers. He was close to his mother and spent a lot of time visiting her when she was recently hospitalized with pneumonia. Prior to the news conference, the family had set up a display in the kitchen with Greg's military honours and some family photos. He left the military in 2009 with the rank of master corporal. The family is in the process of making funeral arrangements. To see photos of Greg with his family and to see a video of Tracey speaking Wednesday to Prince George media, visit www.pgcitizen.ca and scroll down to the Photos and Local Video tabs.