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article imageRCMP cleared in shooting death of B.C. Canadian Forces veteran

By Arthur Weinreb     May 2, 2013 in Crime
British Columbia's police watchdog has cleared the RCMP of criminal responsibility in the death of Greg Matters last year. Matters' family is not happy and further steps are being taken.
The report [PDF] of the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) into the September 2012 shooting death of Matters, 40, was released yesterday. Richard A. Rosenthal, the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO wrote, "In order to conclude the shooting officer may have committed an offence, I would have to find that he may have used excessive (deadly) force without the reasonable belief that it was necessary for the preservation of another officer from death or grievous bodily harm. Based on the evidence that I have reviewed, I am not able to reach that conclusion."
During the early morning hours of Sept. 9, 2012, Matters called police from his rural home outside Prince George to report his brother, Trevor, was driving erratically on his property. After several 911 calls, police said Matters told them if his brother wasn't arrested, he would take care of it himself. Police finally did arrive and a 30-hour standoff between police and Greg Matters began.
Hatchet Greg Matters allegedly had in his hand when shot by RCMP
Hatchet Greg Matters allegedly had in his hand when shot by RCMP
Independent Investigations Office, B.C.
The next day an emergency response team (ERT) was dispatched. Matters was in the process of surrendering when he was spooked by the ERT helicopter containing heavily armed officers. He ran back into the house and emerged carrying a hatchet. As he advanced on the officers, he was tasered but the tasing showed no effect. He still advanced on the officers and was shot twice in the chest.
The decorated veteran, who received his discharge from the Canadian Forces in 2009 after a 15-year career that included a tour of duty in Bosnia, appeared to have PTSD after returning home. He sought treatment for it and was under the care of a psychiatrist at the time of his death. Family members said he could be difficult at times but he was never violent.
After the release of the IIO report, the family issued a statement, critical of many of the police actions. They questioned why the ERT was brought in because Matters was not armed and was not considered dangerous. They allege police had plenty of opportunities to bring the matter to a safe conclusion but did not take advantage of it. They cannot understand why so much firepower was present for what started off as a minor domestic dispute between brothers.
The family is also upset that during the standoff, neither members of the family nor Matters' psychiatrist were allowed to communicate with him even though there have been other incidents involving someone suffering from PTSD that resulted in good outcomes when they were allowed to communicate with their mental health care workers.
Matters' mother, who lived with her son, claims she was assaulted by police during the standoff and that alleged assault is being pursued by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association who have lodged a complaint with the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP.
The family is also hoping the province will call for an inquest into the death.
Many of the family's complaints fall outside the jurisdiction of the IIO. Their narrow mandate is to determine whether there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe a police officer is guilty of a criminal offence.
More about greg matters, Rcmp, independent investigations office IIO, Police shootings, Veterans with ptsd
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