SURREY (Unceded Coast Salish Territories): On March 29, Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson were killed during an alleged hostage taking and police standoff in Surrey, BC. The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) waited over a month, until May 2, to confirm that both deaths were the result of multiple shots fired by the RCMP.
During the past month, RCMP and media reports have falsely implied that Crosson was responsible for McEwan’s death. Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesperson Corporal Frank Jang told the Surrey Now-Leader that, of the two deaths, “one [is] believed to be a police-involved shooting, one is not.”
According to Jeff Shantz, professor of criminology at KPU and member of Anti-Police Power Surrey (APPS), “Police control the flow of information when it comes to police-involved deaths, which allows them to shape the narrative. In this case, as in other similar cases, police have suggested that officers acted heroically, while the victims were somehow to blame.”
Between 2000 and 2017, police were involved in over 460 fatal interactions with civilians across Canada. Criminal charges were laid against officers in only 18 of those cases. There have been only two convictions. “There’s a myth that there is no police violence in Canada. In reality, police are a violent institution. Between 2000 and 2017, there were 14 confirmed police-involved deaths in Surrey alone – an average of almost one killing every year,” said Lenée Son, longtime resident of Surrey and APPS member.
The IIO was established in 2012, after the police killing of Robert Dziekański, to increase police accountability in BC, which has the highest rate of police-involved fatalities in Canada. However, there are no mechanisms to compel police to provide information publicly or even participate in IIO investigations. The IIO relies on police for training and uses former officers in investigations, which compromises this agency’s capacity to be fully independent.
“We’re told that police exist to protect us, but cases like this show that police don’t keep us safe. They are a threat to public safety. This is why Anti-Police Power Surrey is organizing to defund, disarm, and disband the police,” explained APPS member Dave Diewert. “We call for justice for Nona McEwan, Randy Crosson, and countless others killed by police in Surrey and across Canada.”
Anti-Police Power Surrey (APPS) is a grassroots organization committed to building collective resistance to policing and criminalization on the unceded territories of the Kwantlen, Musqueam, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem nations.