IIO investigation into Castlegar incident in final stages

Independent Investigation Office inquiry into the death of Waylon Jesse Edey in January 2015 progressing slowly.

One year and ten months have passed since the police incident that resulted in the death of Waylon Jesse Edey of Yahk, BC and everyone involved is still waiting on a final report from the Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

Castlegar RCMP and West Kootenay Traffic Services were acting on a complaint regarding an impaired driver in the Castlegar area on the evening of Jan. 29, 2015 when the incident occurred.

Police eventually located the alleged impaired driver on the Kinnaird Bridge. During the traffic stop matters escalated and an RCMP officer fired his service pistol at the suspect.

The incident was turned over to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) for investigation. The mandate of the IIO is to investigate whether any offences may have been committed by the police officers involved. At the time, a five person team that included a forensic specialist was sent out to Castlegar.

After almost two years, the investigation has finally reached the point where all reports and results have been compiled. When the News talked to the IIO in January 2016, the case tasks were 80 per cent completed and the IIO was waiting on third party reports from labs and experts.

An internal review of the case at the IIO in now underway. “It is a thourough process and it involves a number of people within the organization,” explained Aiden Buckley, IIO communications and stakeholder liaison. Those people include the IIO chief investigator, the original investigation team director, the director of legal services and the IIO chief civilian director.

Once the chief civilian director completes his review of the investigation, he will make a decision on whether to exonerate the officer involved, or to refer the case to Crown Counsel. If the chief civilian director finds that an officer may have committed any offence, under any enactment, the police act requires him to refer the case to Crown Counsel. If he can independently clear the officer, he will issue a public report that will be available on the IIO website detailing the case, the evidence examined and the witnesses interviewed.

When asked about why it is taking so much time to complete the case, Buckley explained, “Everything from delays in receiving third party reports — which we have been in constant communication with the RCMP about and they have been really communicative with us in looking to resolve those delays. In addition to that, we do have a significant current case load.” The IIO is currently looking into 59 cases. “All of those factors combined with the fact that we are still a relatively new organization and dealing with the kind of predictable challenges of setting up a new organization. All of those factors combined means we are not resolving cases in as timely a fashion as we had originally hoped when the IIO was established,” said Buckley.

Of those 59 cases, two West Kootenay cases — the Castlegar case and the Slocan case involving Peter de Groot — have been on the books the longest.