EDITORIAL: Unanswered questions

Many questions remain – and might for some time - surrounding the police-involved shooting death of Hudson Brooks.

They are the questions of a grieving father – and among them are also the questions of many in the community.

Coming up on four weeks after the death of Hudson Brooks, 20, we know next to nothing about how a young man was killed in an apparent altercation outside the RCMP detachment office in South Surrey in the early morning hours of July 18 .

We know that Brooks was shot and an officer received a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. We know, because the RCMP has confirmed it, that only police-issued firearms were found at the scene.

We know that the Independent Investigations Office has taken charge of investigating the incident, and that firearms and ballistics reports are crucial. Hudson’s father, Matt Brooks, told Peace Arch News last week that he was told by the IIO that completion of a ballistics report, alone, will take nine months.

For the community, that seems a staggering amount of time to wait for answers. One can only imagine how it feels to a family in grief.

Until the investigation is complete, the IIO says, there is no hope of information concerning any 911 call made that night, or any surveillance footage – anything which could shed light on this tragedy – being released. And if charges are recommended, no evidence will be made public then.

A week ago, the elder Brooks – who made it clear he has a high opinion of the officers he has dealt with since the tragedy – issued a list of questions about many of the things that disturb him about the way Hudson died, and the way the case has since been handled.

In it, he rejects, emphatically, the characterization of his son as ‘suicidal’ – a suggestion that came directly from an RCMP news release.

His questions remain unanswered.

We have unanswered questions, too. We’d like to know the status of officers involved in this case, and whether there have been any reassignments from active duty pending completion of the investigation. As well, who fired the weapon that struck the injured officer?

We would like to believe that procedure is preventing investigators from commenting further on the case. And we want to believe that our guardians of law and order are acting in our best interests.

This is a conservative community with a traditionally high boiling point and a willingness to co-operate with, and trust, police officers. But the tight-lipped approach of officialdom on this file is sorely shaking confidence in the powers that be.

At a certain point, a failure to communicate with the public can become a breach of public trust.

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