An inquest into the death of Slocan Valley resident Peter de Groot will be held in the spring of 2020.
De Groot was killed by RCMP officers in October 2014 at a cabin near Slocan City.
De Groot’s sister Danna de Groot announced this new development on Monday in a telephone news conference.
“He was found in a cabin in the mountains outside of the town,” she said, “killed and left lying dead in the dirt of the cabin floor for days before the authorities removed his body. After five years, there remains nothing to show that our brother had committed any offence to warrant police attending his home in the first place.
“Further, we feel that the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) report does not contain a complete, evidence-supported narrative of the events that resulted in Peter’s death.”
The IIO is a provincial body that investigates situations in which a police officer kills or injures someone.
The investigation took more than three years to complete and eventually cleared two officers of having used excessive force in de Groot’s death. His family at the time was highly critical of the report and they hope to raise many questions at the inquest.
An inquest is a formal court proceeding, open to the public, with a jury and summoned evidence. The purpose is to determine the facts of a case, not who is at fault. At the end a written verdict is prepared, with recommendations from the jury.
In her press conference Danna de Groot outlined a lengthy list of unknowns she hopes will be clarified at the inquest.
These include the facts around the confrontation a few days before his death between Peter de Groot and the RCMP that led to the four-day manhunt, the inaccurate public rumours (spread by the RCMP, she alleges) about her brother’s state of health, and about why she was not allowed to try to contact her brother during the manhunt.
She said she also has many questions about the details of the shooting, including what each officer did and when, and whether or not he was shot in the back.
She said the family wants clarity on the several pathology reports that were produced following the death, and on why the shooting officer, Corp. Brian Burke, was assigned to track her brother when he had recently returned to work after suffering from PTSD.
And they have questions about the IIO report: why it dealt only with the day Peter de Groot died in the cabin and not with the events that led to it, and why Burke was allowed to refuse to testify to the IIO investigation.
The date for the inquest has not been set. The de Groot family have been granted participant status, which means their lawyer can call and cross-examine witnesses.
There are two ongoing lawsuits resulting from the death of Peter de Groot.
Burke has filed a lawsuit against the IIO, asserting that the delay was because the office failed to use properly trained experts and didn’t gather all the relevant evidence. Burke is off work due to chronic stress caused by the lengthy investigation, the lawsuit states.
The de Groot family’s lawsuit against the provincial and federal governments is also being held in abeyance until the completion of the inquest.