EDITORIAL: Questions don’t go away with time

One year – and counting – is far too long for family and friends of Hudson Brooks to wait for answers regarding his death.

It’s too long to wait.

A year after the fact, Hudson Brooks’ family and friends should not still be asking for answers to how and why the unarmed 20-year-old was shot in an early-morning altercation with police at the South Surrey RCMP detachment.

We understand that the Independent Investigations Office, which investigates police-involved incidents in which life was lost or serious harm ensued, wants to get its investigation – still apparently hinging on an outstanding ballistics report – right.

There are clearly serious issues involved, and being able to fully assess the information should not be compromised by the understandable grief and desire for closure of those who mourn Brooks.

But current IIO estimates are that it will be late September before the investigation is complete, let alone when a report will be released.

A year and two months without any word?

With all due respect to the IIO, which claims its caseload was impacted by a nearly year-long spike in officer-involved shootings that started in September of 2014, this doesn’t indicate a system working as it should.

It indicates, at best, a system that is broken. At worst, it smacks of bureaucratic coldness and insensitivity.

The most recent comments from the IIO did not come as a result of consideration or empathy for the victim’s loved ones. They came as a result of sustained pressure, from the public, from politicians and from the media.

They say the squeaky wheel gets the oil. That that’s what it takes to get results is not a reassurance that our democratic system is functioning as it should, either.

Even if information was still pending, more frequent and more sensitive updates on the ongoing investigation might have done more to reassure people that the necessary work was being done.

It might have made authorities seem less tone-deaf, and done much to discourage public speculation that what is underway is not simply an investigation, but an exercise in damage control. Why, in an ostensibly civilized country like Canada, should answers to why a young man lost his life – whatever the reason – be so long in coming?

And why should those who care about Brooks still be standing on street corners – as the more than 100 people who gathered for a vigil at the site of the shooting did Monday – still shouting into the wind for justice?

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