Police watchdog investigating after man fatally shot on First Nation near Tofino, B.C.
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s police watchdog has been called after Mounties shot and killed a man on a First Nation reserve off the West Coast of Vancouver Island Saturday night.
According to a news release from the BC RCMP, two officers from the Tofino detachment were called to a home in the Opitsaht community of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Meares Island "to locate a woman in distress."
When they arrived, "an interaction took place and one male was shot and another was taken into custody," police said in their release. They also described the incident as a "fatal police-involved shooting."
In its own release on the issue, the Independent Investigations Office was more direct, saying "the incident resulted in one man being shot and killed by officers."
The IIO is a civilian agency that investigates all incidents involving police officers in B.C. that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is an allegation of wrongdoing on the part of police.
The woman was taken to hospital for a medical assessment, and no one else was injured during the incident, police said.
RCMP said the Vancouver Island General Investigative Section is looking into the initial call, which included allegations that the woman was being held against her will.
The man who was not shot remains in custody, police said.
The IIO says it is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death, and is asking anyone with relevant information to call its witness line at 855-446-8477.
Less than 24 hours after the shooting, at least one Indigenous organization was already calling for an independent inquiry into the incident, saying the IIO investigation would not "maintain public trust and confidence."
The Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of B.C. says it has already sent letters to the provincial and federal governments calling for "an independent, open and prompt inquiry" into the shooting that includes First Nations.
“If it is the police who are appointed to investigate this police shooting, there will be an outcry from family, friends and First Nations," said the association's president Hugh Braker in a statement.
"Nor will many in the public be satisfied if another police agency does the investigation," Braker added. "We are well aware of the 'brotherhood' among police officers and forces.”
The association notes in its release that Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman from Vancouver Island who was shot and killed by police during a wellness check in New Brunswick last year, was also from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.