July 18, 2015 - 4:25 PM
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. - The probe into a fatal RCMP shooting outside a public hearing in northern British Columbia grew more dramatic Friday when a witness video of the incident emerged and the province's police watchdog acknowledged that investigators initially misidentified the person shot.
In the video posted on Facebook, two officers with their guns drawn are standing over a man in a grey hoodie while he is slumped on the ground.
"The cops just ... shot this guy," says a man in a profanity-filled narrative as he records the video. "He's ... dead. There's blood everywhere."
The video appears to have been taken on a cell phone from a room in the Stonebridge Hotel overlooking the Fixx Urban Grill restaurant where a BC Hydro public information session took place.
One officer appears to kick something away from the man although the object cannot be seen. The man moves slightly on the ground before becoming still as blood pools beneath him.
Sirens can be heard in the background as a third Mountie arrives. One of the officers appears to bring the man's hands behind his back to handcuff him.
Police appear to check his vital signs before opening the trunk of a cruiser and starting to administer first aid about two minutes into the video.
Several other officers eventually appear. One crouches near a cruiser with a long gun just before the video ends.
Kellie Kilpatrick, spokeswoman for the police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, issued a clarification Friday night, saying that two men, not one as was initially reported, were involved in the incident that happened as a public hearing for the contentious Site C dam was taking place.
She said the IIO reported on Thursday evening that an individual who caused a disturbance at the hearing came into contact with police outside the venue and was shot.
But Kilpatrick said the man who allegedly caused the disturbance had actually left the area before police got there.
"Police arrive at the location and they come into contact with a second individual who is unrelated to the original complaint," she said. "He is aggressive. He does not follow police commands and he is shot. He is transported to hospital but he does not survive."
When asked how the misidentification happened, Kilpatrick said, "At this point I don't have that information," adding she might be able to shed light on it later.
"In all of the IIO cases, I've never experienced us having to go forward and clarify information to this degree," she said.
She said eight members of the IIO are now in Dawson Creek and they have seized a knife.
She said the IIO would not identify the officers and that the BC Coroners Service would release the name of the deceased.
BC Hydro chief communications officer Steve Vanagas said in a statement late Friday afternoon that the company was awaiting more details from police about the "tragic incident."
He said all employees who were inside the hotel and were staffing the information session were moved to a safe location and that none were directly involved.
Mounties have said they encountered a man wearing a mask outside the venue and believed he was connected to the call about a disturbance and destruction of property.
Despite attempts to de-escalate the situation, there was a confrontation and the unidentified man was shot and later died in hospital, RCMP said.
The meeting in Dawson Creek was the last of five public consultations on the Site C dam held in the province this month.
The hearings have attracted dissent. A YouTube video shows a small band of Treaty 8 First Nations protesters interrupting a July 9 hearing in Fort St. John with a drum procession and speeches.
The province granted approval earlier this month for the first phase of construction to start on the $9-billion dam on the Peace River.
Several First Nations and environmental groups have filed lawsuits to try to stop construction and the actions are currently working their way through the courts.
Mike Bernier, who represents the Peace River South riding for the Liberals in the B.C. legislature, called the incident a "troubling situation."
"Any time there's a loss of life, regardless of the circumstances, it's very unfortunate and my thoughts and prayers go out to everybody involved: the RCMP, the family of the deceased, everyone," he said.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015