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B.C. police watchdog finds grounds for charges against 3 RCMP officers in killing of Indigenous man

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British Columbia's police watchdog has found reasonable grounds for charges against three Vancouver Island RCMP officers involved in the shooting death of an Indigenous man last year.

In a statement Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. announced it would file a report to B.C.'s prosecution service to consider charges in the death of Jared Lowndes.

At least one Campbell River RCMP officer opened fire on Lowndes in the parking lot of the Tim Hortons in the 2000-block of South Island Highway on the morning of July 8, 2021.

Police were attempting to pull over the 38-year-old father of two for an outstanding warrant when he failed to stop, the RCMP said shortly after the shooting.

According to the IIO, the incident began just before 5:30 a.m., when a Mountie was investigating a parked Audi. The driver of the dark blue vehicle reportedly drove away and there was contact between the Audi and a police vehicle.

The Mountie did not pursue the Audi but alerted other officers in the area, according to the IIO.

Police located the Audi again at around 9 a.m., stopping the vehicle in the Tim Hortons drive-thru lane.

Mounties said a responding officer boxed the vehicle in before confronting the driver with a police service dog.

During the interaction, the dog was stabbed and killed. The dog's handler also suffered a knife wound, the RCMP said.

Police opened fire on Lowndes, killing him.

Ronald J. MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the IIO, "reviewed the evidence and determined that reasonable grounds exist to believe that three officers may have committed offences in relation to various uses of force," the IIO said in the release Thursday.

"The IIO is preparing a report to be submitted to the BC Prosecution Service for consideration of charges in the coming months," the agency added. "As releasing the details of the interaction could prejudice a potential prosecution, more information will not be provided at this time."

Before approving any charges, the prosecution service must determine there is a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence, and that prosecution is in the public interest, the police oversight agency said.

The IIO is tasked with investigating all police officer-related incidents in B.C. that result in death or serious injury to a member of the public, regardless of whether there is any allegation of police wrongdoing.

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