Site C protester, shooting victim were not the same man

Investigators confirm victim had a knife

Nearly 24 hours after a police shooting left a man dead outside a Dawson Creek restaurant, B.C.'s law enforcement watchdog was convinced the victim and a man who disrupted a Site C dam open house inside were one and the same.

They were not.

"We verified, verified, verified. At two o'clock I was told the same guy, at three o'clock I was told the same guy, then I land in Dawson Creek and I'm told 'different guy,'" said Kellie Kilpatrick, executive director of public accountability with the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) at a media conference at 7 p.m. Friday.

Thursday night, the IIO and RCMP said the shooting occurred outside a public information session on the Site C dam, and that the man who was killed was "believed to be connected" to the disturbance inside.

Instead, the man who reportedly flipped tables and destroyed maps at the BC Hydro event is alive, while another is dead.

The IIO could not yet confirm what the victim was doing at the Fixx Urban Grill restaurant on the evening of July 16, but said he had a knife. Police shot the man after he acted aggressively and refused to comply with police instructions. He died shortly after. Little is known about him, as investigators have not released his name.

As for what investigators know about the man at the Site C event: "He's alive," Kilpatrick said.

According to Kilpatrick, the Dawson Creek investigation has been one of the most complex the office has encountered since it was created in 2012.

"Since the beginning of the operations of the IIO, we've not seen a case that has quite as many moving parts as this one," she said.

"The RCMP as well as the IIO spent close to four hours last night confirming what we thought was the most relevant, most accurate information. To come speak to you now almost 24 hours later, and provide a significant change in the information is not something we typically find ourselves dealing with.

"That's a fairly substantive clarification that needed to be made."

It was a remarkable turn in a day that saw Dawson Creek and its police force thrust into the spotlight, and one of the most controversial projects in B.C. linked to a police shooting.

At about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, police shot and killed the man outside the front door of the Fixx restaurant. A video of the aftermath emerged online, showing officers with guns pointed at the man, who appeared to be holding a knife.

An open house about construction of the controversial $8.8-billion Site C dam was taking place in banquet facilities of the restaurant that evening.

According to an attendee, a man flipped tables and tore display boards illustrating the dam from their stands before being escorted out of the room.

Curtis Pratt was inside and said he did not hear shots, but later saw the body. He said the victim was wearing a mask, and he wasn't sure whether it was the man from inside.

Kilpatrick did not have additional information about the protestor, but said "he never did come into contact with police."

Her office is continuing to investigate the shooting. The officers involved have been sequestered, and it is not clear whether they will be charged, suspended or placed on administrative leave. The IIO also said investigators were not sure if the officers had tasers or other lesser means of force, which will be a key part of the investigation.

"That's something our investigators have been following up on today. I don't have the answer to that," Kilpatrick said.

"What an officer carries on his toolbelt varies depending on officer location, detachment and the type of work they are doing."

What is clear is that "police came in response to the disturbance and found themselves in contact with this other individual," Kilpatrick said.

The IIO is asking anyone with information about what happened in the area to come forward, saying cell phone videos are of particular interest.

“In this day of social media, we aware that there is a lot of information circulating out there,” Kilpatrick said. “We’re very interested in speaking with anyone who has information about what they saw or what they heard here last evening,” she added.
 

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