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RCMP not to blame for death of suspect who shot Golden Mountie: Police watchdog

Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket is shown in this undated RCMP handout image.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-RCMP
October 31, 2016 - 10:45 AM

REVELSTOKE - The suspect who led police on a manhunt after shooting a Mountie near Golden died from head trauma and RCMP action or inaction was not to blame, B.C.'s police watchdog says.

The provincial Independent Investigations Office launched a probe to determine whether there was any connection between the officers' actions and the death of Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket, 40.

Investigators concluded "there is no causal connection between death of the male affected person and actions or inactions of police," according to a Independent Investigations Office media release.

Golden RCMP were conducting a road stop and check on Highway 1 on Oct. 11 when Thunderblanket exited his vehicle and fired shots at a RCMP officer, the release says. Police returned fire, hitting Thunderblanket. At the time it wasn't known how severe Thunderblanket's injuries were but a statement from the City of Revelstoke at the time said the officer who was shot had undergone reconstructive surgery on her hand and arm and was recovering.

The suspect ran away on foot and hijacked another vehicle at gun point which he used to flee the scene. He drove the stolen vehicle toward Revelstoke and the Investigations Office says officers located the vehicle nine kilometres west of the city.

Police set up a road block and deployed two spike belts in hopes of stopping the vehicle. The vehicle failed to stop and police fired shots. Eleven shell casings were found at the scene. One bullet hit the driver-side mirror, but the driver was not hit. He continued to drive away from the spike belts and eventually ditched the vehicle, making his way down a steep enbankment.

The search for Thunderblanket continued late into the morning of Oct. 12 and ended when the suspect was found dead in a river.

"The autopsy concluded the cause of death to be a head trauma consistent with an impact against a rock," the Investigations Office says in the release.

The watchdog has determined there was no connection between police inaction and Thunderblanket's death.

— With files from The Canadian Press


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