‘Questions from a father’ over police-shooting death

RCMP's ‘Suicidal’ claim riles family of police-shooting victim.

The memorial for Hudson Brooks near the South Surrey RCMP station continues to grow.

The memorial for Hudson Brooks near the South Surrey RCMP station continues to grow.

Nearly three weeks after he was fatally shot by police outside of a South Surrey RCMP detachment, family members of 20-year-old Hudson Brooks have more questions than answers about what happened that night.

The incident, under investigation by the Independent Investigations Office, took place in the early morning hours of July 18, when, according to police, officers responded to a man screaming in the 1800-block of 152 Street.

Police allege a struggle ensued and Hudson was shot; an officer also suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, however, investigators confirmed two days later that only police-issued firearms were found at the scene.

Matt Brooks, frustrated that news articles regarding his son’s death continue to note the Mounties’ reference to a “suicidal” male, told Peace Arch News last Friday that the description couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Suicide is something that came from the RCMP,” Brooks said, noting media repeating the reference are losing credibility in their reporting of the issue.

“If it came from a caller, the caller was misinformed. Anybody that knew Hudson knows that suicide and mental-illness dialogue is so far from reality.”

Though he didn’t want to make any additional public statement, Wednesday Brooks provided PAN with a list of questions surrounding the circumstances of his son’s death, the subsequent investigation and the lacking media coverage that has followed.

Among those in Brooks’ “Questions from a Father” (below), he details discrepancies about who initially labelled Hudson as “suicidal,” the need for clarification about whether the 911 call was made before or after shots were fired and frustration that it took more than 11 hours for family members to be informed about his son’s death, despite it occurring 2½ blocks from his home.

Brooks also questioned why such lethal force was used on his son.

“Why does it take gunfire for three trained officers to subdue an unarmed young man?” he writes.

While Brooks singled out individual officers and officials as being “great at what they do,” he also asked: “Why are some so careless and incompetent? You know who you are.”

Brooks expressed disbelief that, when he inquired with the IIO as to the investigation’s progress, he was told it would be nine months for the ballistics report to be completed.

Asked Wednesday for an update on the case’s timeline, IIO spokesperson Kellie Kilpatrick told PAN via email that the investigation is dependent on firearm and ballistics reports and as such, will “take time to conclude, as will any major case investigation done by law enforcement.”

Kilpatrick said no information relating to 911 calls or video surveillance will be released until the case is concluded. At that point, she said, if charges are recommended, no evidence will be disclosed; however, if the case goes to public report with no charges, the evidence will be made public.

Kilpatrick acknowledged the devastation felt by the victim’s family and in the community over Hudson Brooks’ death and frustration over the lack of information available to them.

“None of this will satisfy the family or the community – we know that,” Kilpatrick said. “We are committed to providing the family with support and information as we are able, and we are very sorry that this is the reality for the family.”

A tribute to Hudson in front of the RCMP detachment continues to grow, with dozens of candles, flowers, cards and signs reading ‘Justice for Hudson’ adorning a concrete flowerbed next to the underground parking entrance.

Further frustrating family and friends was a sign, with the City of Surrey logo, placed among the tribute items late last week, requesting no open flames be placed on the tribute due to the current fire hazard.

“Why would the City of Surrey be so petty and small as to place a sign at Hudson’s memorial?” Brooks asked.

A city spokesperson told PAN via email Thursday morning that the sign was put up “out of a genuine fire concern as a result of the flowers, foliage and paper signs” present at the memorial.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the sign was no longer present; the city has no plans to replace the sign, the spokesperson said.

– with files from Tracy Holmes

Matt Brooks’ ‘Questions from a Father’:

1) Why after less than three weeks, with so much online activity, a growing memorial and so many questions unanswered is there nothing about my son’s death at the hands of police in the local paper?

2) Why does every article with regard to the incident want to falsely call my son suicidal when all who knew him know that is so far from reality?

3) Why, when I asked the IIO where this “suicidal” dialogue came from, did the agent tell me it came from “reporters canvassing the residents of the area” but upon further investigation (and IIO and the reporters’ confirmation) it was found to come only from the statement released by the RCMP?

4) Why does it take gunfire for three trained RCMP officers to subdue an unarmed young man?

5) Why did it take over 11 hours to inform Hudson’s family of his death when he was shot and killed only 2½ blocks from his home?

6) Why, when I asked the IIO about the progress of the investigation, was I told that it would take over nine months for the ballistics report to be completed? (Nine months???)

7) When did the police receive the 911 call or calls? (Before or after they shot my son? Did they respond to a 911 call or initiate one?)

8) Why would the City of Surrey be so petty and small as to place a bylaw sign at Hudson’s memorial insisting that “there are to be no open flames due to fire hazards?” (One only has to see the concrete sidewalk and boulevard area to understand the chance of fire by lit candles.)

9) Why do we more mature members of society have so little tolerance of today’s young people? Why are we so quick to vilify? (I have been so proud of the respectful nature and outpouring of love that my son has received from his many young friends and supporters).

10) Why are some so great at what they do day in and day out in their work? (Sandy Jaremchuk, IIO; John Knox, coroner; Pastor Jeff Renaud; Staff Sgt. Marty Blais; and every other RCMP officer I have dealt with since the incident). And why are some so quick to judgment, so careless and so incompetent? (You know who you are).

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