"NOBODY SHOULD BE SHOT IN THE HEAD."
SALMON ARM - Kaymen Winter was on his way home to the Lower Mainland to see his family and own up to an outstanding warrant for his arrest when he stopped at a car wash in Salmon Arm and was shot in the head by police, his sister says.
Tassie Winter and her parents learned Monday morning that Kaymen, 22, had been shot overnight Jan. 30 and was in hospital. Tassie says her brother, a tattoo artist and construction worker, was on on his way from Calgary to Port Coquitlam that night.
“I tried to call him around 6 a.m. thinking he should be here by now. He wasn’t answering, wasn’t answering. That’s when we got the news,” Tassie says.
According to the RCMP, police were responding to a report of a theft in progress at the car wash Jan. 30 around midnight, and when the suspect tried to flee, fired shots. B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, is now investigating to determine if any of the officers committed an offence.
When Tassie and her parents got to the hospital, Kaymen was sedated, in critical condition with a breathing tube. A bullet had gone through his forehead, and fractured his skull. His left shoulder was also injured, possibly by a bullet or shrapnel, Tassie says.
“It was so sad. My mom and dad and my sister were just crying. You don’t want to see anyone you love in this situation,” she says.
At that point, all they knew was Kaymen had been shot.
“No one was telling us anything,” Tassie says.
Kaymen spoke briefly on Tuesday, Tassie says, but hasn’t been able to tell family much about what happened. She understands that he stopped around 11 p.m. to inspect his truck, which didn’t seem to be working properly, and to clean it.
Kaymen's mother Cindy Winter said today, Feb. 1, that her son is conscious and has been able to speak, but they still don't know the circumstances of the investigation. She says Kaymen was unarmed and knowing him he would have been scared of the sounds of gun shots.
"He's my baby, he's my youngest," Cindy says. "If they had shot once in the air he would have dropped to the ground."
Cindy says it's not known what Kaymen's recovery looks like right now, but he may have suffered brain damage and doctors are still assessing the injuries to see the extent.
If he makes a full recovery and is released from hospital, Cindy says he will likely be taken directly to a correctional facility.
The car wash where the incident happened, Xcalibur Kawasaki located on 10 Avenue SW just off the Trans Canada Highway, is open from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., according to the hours posted on its Facebook page. The owners have declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.
Kaymen was facing separate warrants on different files. A warrant was issued for Kaymen’s arrest Jan. 10 in Nanaimo and another issued Jan. 23 in Port Coquitlam on charges of fraud under $5,000 and possession of a stolen credit card, according to court records. A report from the Nanaimo News Bulletin says Kaymen and another man are accused of trying to purchase more than $1,100 worth of goods with a Visa card at the Brooks Landing Home Hardware and together face 19 fraud charges.
Kaymen's sister says he was on his way home to face the outstanding charges.
“He’s been in trouble. He’s not a perfect angel. But he’s always owned up to things. He’s not a violent guy and he’s never had violent charges,” Tassie says, adding he does not carry weapons.
Cindy says her son is far from perfect, but believes excessive forces was used by police.
"Nobody should be shot in the head," Cindy says. "There's no need to use excessive force."
She says her son has been in trouble with the law but has always taken responsibility for his actions.
"If you want to do the crime, you pay for it," Cindy says.
Tassie believes her brother was simply stopped at the car wash to check his truck, and was not committing an offence. She says he may have gotten spooked when police showed up and attempted to leave in his vehicle, but stresses she doesn’t know all the details because Kaymen has been unable to speak fully about what happened. The family has been told Kaymen suffered some brain damage, but the extent is not yet known.
“It (police response) was overkill. They did not have to go to that extreme with him. I don’t think it was necessary at all, especially for an unarmed 22-year-old kid,” Tassie says.
Further details about the incident, including whether the suspect was armed, have not been released by the RCMP or the Independent Investigations Office.
Cindy says no one knows the details of the incident and no one should be speculating on what really happened, but she doesn't believe her son would be stealing from the car wash.
"There's nothing (to steal) in a car wash bay," Cindy says. "What is he going to take? Tokens?"
After returning to the hospital Tuesday evening, Jan. 31, to be with Kaymen, Tassie says her family was barred from seeing him.
Cindy says she is the only family member allowed to see Kaymen right now and only at certain times during the day because he has been placed under arrest. She says correctional officers are monitoring him.
Tassie says her family has been receiving numerous comments from strangers, including on her mother’s Facebook page, pointing to Kaymen’s criminal record.
“My reaction, honestly, is I am very saddened by what people are saying. Nobody knows this kid. He has the biggest heart,” Tassie says. “Yeah, he’s had a past with the law. He’s a young kid. He’s not a bad kid and he did not deserve what he got.”
Cindy says some of the comments she's seen on social media have been extremely disrespectful to Kaymen.
"I just wish people would be more understanding," Cindy says. "Some people are heartless."
Kaymen is scheduled to appear in Kamloops court Feb. 3 for a bail hearing on fraud and stolen credit card charges from 2016. No charges have been laid in connection with the Jan. 30 car wash incident.
“My mom said she wants to let the investigation take place. We’ll all find out the truth in the end,” Tassie says. “I think it’s important the public knows he’s not a bad kid. He has a beautiful heart.”
— With files from Ashley Legassic.
— This story was updated at 12:24 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 to include comments from the shooting victim's mother, and again at 12:44 p.m. to add a link to a news article from the Nanaimo News Bulletin.
— This story was updated at 3:41 p.m. to clarify outstanding warrants
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