Increased training for RCMP in the use of force was among a trio of recommendations to come out of an inquest into the high-profile 2015 police-shooting death of Hudson Brooks in South Surrey.
Issued late Thursday afternoon, the recommendation is one Brooks’ family agrees with, the 20-year-old’s eldest brother told Peace Arch News Friday.
“I didn’t have high hopes,” Beau Brooks said, referring to his sense ahead of time for what could come out of the fact-finding proceedings.
“I’m glad that they recognized that there needs to be change in the police training and the intermediate weapons, because that’s a very true statement.
“Whether those changes actually happen, I have very serious doubts.”
Hudson Brooks died in July 2015, after being shot multiple times during an altercation with police outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment.
The inquest heard that Brooks had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time, and had also ingested magic mushrooms in the hours prior.
Police witnesses – including Const. Elizabeth Cucheran, the officer who fired on Brooks – testified that Brooks had been yelling “kill me,” “kill you” and “I’m going to kill you” in the moments leading up to his death. Another officer said that Brooks violently attacked his police SUV, prompting the officer to issue a radio call for help.
A friend of Brooks’ told the inquest that Brooks had appeared to have a bad reaction to taking the mushrooms, and that he believed it to have been his friend’s first time trying the hallucinogenic. Another witness said she called 911 because she was scared for Brooks, after waking to him yelling “kill me, kill me, kill me now, sorry, mom, sorry,” as he walked down the middle of 18 Avenue.
Criminal charges were announced against Cucheran in December 2017 in connection with Brooks’ death, but were stayed nearly two years later, after further investigation of information that arose during a preliminary inquiry determined the evidence no longer supported charges.
The inquest, held March 1-4 in Burnaby, was scheduled to determine the facts and circumstances of Brooks’ death and provide an opportunity for recommendations that could prevent a similar death in the future. Seventeen witnesses gave evidence.
Thursday’s verdict included the classification of Brooks’ death as a homicide, as well as additional recommendations that the Independent Investigations Office, upon completion of such investigations, provide related findings and materials to affected agencies for the purpose of developing training solutions; and, that new technology for ‘intermediate force options’ be considered.
Brooks’ family was glad to hear the death was deemed a homicide, his brother said, noting that is how they have always viewed it.
Another recommendation he would have liked to see is one for more stress training in determining whether an individual is fit to be an officer.
Asked if he accepts an apology that Cucheran made to the family at the end of her testimony, Brooks said he doesn’t “recognize” it as genuine.
“I don’t want to say that I don’t accept it, I just don’t believe it,” he said.
The inquest, he said, is not the end of his brother’s story.
“There’s been a sliver of justice, but not what Hudson deserves,” he said, noting the family is considering legal options.
“We’re not done fighting for it.”
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