RCMP didn’t cause death of man who ran into ocean in Port Alberni, IIO finds

The Independent Investigations Office has concluded there is no evidence that the actions of the Port Alberni RCMP were responsible for the death of a man who ran from them into the ocean.

“More accurately, their efforts were an attempt to save his life,” said a bulletin from the IIO, an agency that investigates police-related incidents resulting in serious harm or death.

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Police encountered the man about 3 a.m. on Nov. 28 after responding to call from a store. The caller told police that a naked man covered in blood came to the store and then began cleaning himself at a nearby car wash.

Police located the man, but he ran off and entered a tributary of Port Alberni Inlet.

Officers went after him, but couldn’t reach him. His body was recovered about an hour later by search-and-rescue personnel.

It isn’t known how the man became covered in blood.

The IIO said its investigation showed police responded to the man with the intent of getting him medical assistance.

“He responded by running from police and entering the water,” the bulletin said. “Two officers, one after the other, without regard for their own safety, entered the frigid water in attempts to save the male, who ignored officers and moved further out from shore.

“Both officers had to return to shore due to the impact of the cold water on their bodies.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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