Greg Matters, the Prince George man killed in a police shooting on Monday night, was in contact with the Citizen in the days before and during a standoff with RCMP.
The death of Matters came after police surrounded a Pineview home near the corner of Pinko Road and Alpine Drive for more than 30 hours. An RCMP Emergency Response Team was deployed to the scene.
Matters, 40, a Canadian solider who had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, contacted the Citizen last week to do a story on his ongoing dispute with the RCMP as well as his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A Citizen reporter and editor exchanged emails with the man, hoping to set up a date and time for an interview.
In his emails, Matters told of his experience in the military, which he said led to his PTSD diagnosis but also told of his recent troubles with the law, including his belief RCMP were out to hurt him. His tone shifted dramatically in the correspondence, from fear and paranoia of the police in one sentence to anger and outrage against authorities in the next.
One email from Matters detailed a dispute with his brother at his mother's house on the weekend. He said the incident involved a car chase and he concluded by saying police were trying to arrest him.
"Guess what now, I gave the police my hand written statement last night and now they wish to arrest me RIGHT NOW — they (have) police cars station right now on PINKO Road wanting to arrest me," he wrote in an email time-stamped 11:04 a.m. on Monday. "This all goes back so much — the police wishing to hurt me — why do people want to hurt me — I did nothing wrong but protect myself and more importantly my mother and property."
Matters sent conflicting messages to the Citizen on Monday, first writing to an editor that he was feeling better and would rather discuss his troubles with his doctor at the Vancouver-based Operational Stress Injury (OSI) clinic than with the newspaper.
"I am very fortunate to have a support mechanism of the OSI clinic, down in Vancouver (Dr. Passey is back this week) — that stated; I feel as though I should vent my thoughts through those means. However, in the future, if you are still interested, perhaps one day in the future I will recontact the Citizen," he wrote.
An hour later he wrote the email in which he said RCMP were trying to arrest him.
Matters went on to write that he believed the RCMP were out to hurt him and that he was waiting to hear back from legal counsel.
According to the email, the incident with Matters' brother took place on the weekend after Matters said his brother drove aggressively into his mother's yard at 3 a.m. Matters said he didn't know it was his brother at the time and pursued the vehicle. Matters said his brother rammed into him but that Matters was eventually able to get his brother to stop and take his brother's car keys after a fight.
"I called 911 several times for help — but like my previous experiences, they don't want to help, they want to hurt — can you help me," Matters wrote.
It's believed that the car chase and crash is what instigated the current investigation and led to the standoff.
The correspondence with the Citizen began last week when Matters left emails and one voicemail with an editor asking for help with his issues with the RCMP. He said they stemmed from an incident when RCMP officers threatened a family friend and broke into their home.
Subsequently he alleges the RCMP raided his house with guns drawn.
Matters was convicted of uttering threats to cause bodily harm in January 2011 and given 18 months probation, but in his emails he said he was in the process of appealing the conviction.
"I need help, I am afraid and I live in fear each and every day because of what has occurred," he said. "I am insensed!... and am desperate for some safe direction that may provide me some feeling of security in my own home — especially in my own home (the one place on this planet where EVERYONE should be guaranteed to feel and BE safe."
According to court records, Matters' name has been on the court docket 20 times since 2011. All of his interactions with the legal system had apparently left him feeling disenfranchised.
"Why can these things happen in a country such as ours at this date in time — why don't things like the judicial system (especially the judicial system) evolve to match the values of society," he wrote in his initial email to the Citizen. "There is so much more in my story that would make you sad... and insecure."
Despite the fear and anger that was apparent in his writing, Matters tried to assure the Citizen that he was getting treatment to deal with his troubles.
"Again, please keep your worries to a minimum as I have Dr. Passey in my life to help me with these PTSD issues of the past," he wrote. "I AM a good person and wish only the best for good people — why do people want to hurt me?"
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), a newly created provincial agency that investigates police incidents involving death or serious harm, sent nine officers to Prince George to look into the matter. The agency opened its doors Monday and this is its first case.
Investigators are expected to be on the ground in Prince George until at least the end of the week collecting evidence, interviewing RCMP officers who were at the scene of the standoff and examining the scene of the shooting.