Lawyer clears IIO in Matters investigation

A third-party review of the police watchdog's investigation into the death of Greg Matters has found no fault with the Independent Investigations Office's (IIO) process. 

Vancouver lawyer Mark Jette was appointed in the summer as a civilian monitor to examine whether the investigation following the Sept. 10, 2012 shooting of the Canadian military veteran by the RCMP at his family's Pineview home "lacked integrity" after a formal complaint by a former IIO investigator.

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In his report, Jette said that after considering information gathered during the review he didn't find "evidence of any action, decision or direction" by IIO staff that "betrayed a pro or anti-police bias, or anything else which might cause me to find that the investigation or the investigative procedures followed lacked integrity."

Jette did conclude that the integrity of the investigation was affected by the decision of IIO chief civilian director Richard Rosenthal to dispatch two investigators to Prince George who were ineligible for the position under the Police Act since they had served as members of a police force in B.C. within the immediately preceding five years.

A statement from Matters' sister, Tracey, said that while pleased Rosenthal was being held to account for that breach of the Police Act, he was being let off the hook for not stating that Greg Matters was shot in the back in his report.

"It defies common sense to leave such a critical piece of information out of an IIO report," the statement said.

The statement also said Jette failed to address why the IIO failed to reconstruct the bullet trajectory.  

"There is an apparent inconsistency between the RCMP’s allegation that Greg was attacking an officer with a hatchet and the fact that the bullet passed into Greg’s back, out his chest and struck his dominant right forearm," the statement said. 

"Greg obviously didn’t have a hatchet raised (if he had one at all) and he was unable to run because of his physical restrictions.  The coroner’s inquest into Greg’s death found there was no DNA evidence connecting him to the hatchet." 

During the inquest, Cpl. Collin Warwick testified he fired two shots into Matters from an off-angle after a fellow officer unsuccessfully deployed a Taser while an RCMP emergency response team was trying to apprehend him. He said he pulled the trigger when Matters turned on the officer with the hatchet and thought he had hit him in the chest but an autopsy showed he was hit in the back. 

Matters' also confirmed that her mother, Lorraine, is still moving ahead with a lawsuit against the Warwick, as well as against the provincial government and the federal attorney general. 

A notice of civil claim against the three was filed in early September and responses have not yet been filed. The allegations have not been tested in court.

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