Lorraine Matters was detained in a room at the Prince George RCMP station a year ago when her heart was broken.
Hours earlier Lorraine had been forcibly removed from her familys property by police who had surrounded the premises with the intention of arresting her son Greg Matters, a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces who was dealing with
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When a woman Lorraine described as a mediator walked into the room were she was being held, Lorraine knew immediately something had gone horribly wrong.
She came to the door and I said, You killed my son, didnt you? Lorraine said Tuesday, fighting back tears. She shook her head. I said, Hes dead, she shook her head yes.
Thats how Lorraine found out that Greg had been shot by a member of the RCMPs Emergency Response Team (ERT) after he approached officers with a hatchet in his hand outside a small one-room cabin on a family-owned lot beside Lorraines home.
The provincial Independent Investigations
Office examined the circumstances and determined no charges should be laid against the police officers involved in the shooting.
A year later, Lorraine is still coming to grips with the death of her son and how what started as a family dispute between Greg and his brother Trevor escalated into a fatal police incident.
We all miss Greg, she said. A piece of my heart is gone and it can never be filled again.
Although the event that put things in motion one year ago was an altercation between Greg and his brother Trevor, some of the underlying factors had been at work for years.
Gregs sister Tracey said her brothers personality changed shortly after he joined the military in 1994 but it wasnt until years later the family began to
see the symptoms they would later identify as
Tracey, who lives in Australia, remembers Greg being very reclusive, even around family and friends. One time when she came to visit she found her brother in a room in the basement lying in a fetal position, crying.
It just took my breath away, she said.
Gregs fear of the police stemmed from an incident on the East Coast when a friends home was broken into and Greg never felt justice was served. He wrote letters of complaint, some very strongly worded, which caught the eye of investigators.
At least one of those letters may have gone too far and got Greg in trouble with the law
He wrote a letter on the computer and pushed send, which he shouldnt have, he was frustrated at the time, Lorraine said. Then they came and
After that, Greg felt the police were out to get him and that he was being followed. Lorraine remembers getting a call from a panicked Greg at the movie theatre, saying that he was worried the police were after him. She drove from her Pineview home downtown to ensure his safety.
Despite that lack of trust in authority, Greg was the one who called the police to report the incident with his brother in the early morning hours of Sept. 9, 2012.
Greg was again in contact with RCMP about the incident later that morning and, according to Lorraine, agreed to provide a statement to police about what happened. He was unable to deliver it in person due to car problems, but she said police officers came to the home to pick it up.
That evening, Lorraine said police officers began to ask Greg to come down the driveway to the street, perhaps with the intention of arresting him.
At one point he came in and said, Mom, Im too scared, Im too scared to walk down to the road, Lorraine said. I got on the phone and told them, Please, Greg has post-traumatic stress, please dont do this to him.
Greg didnt leave the house that night and police maintained a presence in the neighbourhood. Early in the afternoon on the following day, Sept. 10, Greg decided to leave his mothers home and head to a neighbouring property where his grandparents used to live. He went to a one-room cabin that he had been renovating for use as a study room.
Later that afternoon, with police now surrounding the property, Lorraine asked permission from one of the officers to go visit Greg and check on his well-being. Believing she had been given the green light, Lorraine drove next door and turned to go down the driveway but was immediately stopped by an officer in full ERT tactical outfit with helmet, face shield, body armour and rifle.
I just said to him, My God, what are you doing? You look ridiculous. And that really got him angry when I told him he looked ridiculous, Lorraine said.
Her interaction with the officer quickly escalated as he asked her to put her hands on the hood of her car, something she said she couldnt do because of neck and arm injuries. Lorraine said the officer then grabbed her and she fell to the ground where she was kneed in the chest.
I was begging for my sons life then because I thought if theyre doing this to me, what are they going to do to Greg, she said. I already knew that they were
going to hurt my son.
Lorraine was taken to the police station where she was held on suspicion of assault, but no charges were ever filed.
Despite all the challenges Greg faced as a result of PTSD, both Lorraine and Tracey feel he was making great strides thanks to the treatment his was receiving prior to his death. He was becoming more active in the community - he had plans to volunteer with hospice and wanted to be involved with 4-H - and was talking about starting a family of his own.
He would have made a full recovery, Tracey said. With full support he was becoming a model citizen.