Jury Reaches Verdict in Nelson Public Inquest for Peter John De Groot

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The five-person jury in the Nelson Public Inquest of Peter John De Groot has ruled his death was a homicide. The jury is tasked with making recommendations to help avoid similar instances of death, but cannot make any findings of legal responsibilities or express conclusions of law. The verdict was presented yesterday afternoon, October 13th, following deliberations that lasted most of the day and two weeks prior of testimony.

The jury had nine total recommendations including seven for the Deputy Commissioner, E-Division RCMP and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. They read as follows:

  • Implement appropriate body cameras for all frontline police officers, including Emergency Response Team members.
  • Supply and equip advanced first aid kits in all RCMP vehicles.
  • Ensure RCMP members’ first aid and first responder medical training is current.
  • Ensure that police officers have appropriate and functional communication equipment for the area and manner of deployment.
  • Review the efficiency and effectiveness of full time, regionally based Emergency Response Teams vs part time.
  • Review, standardize and make available mental health support programs to ensure information, resources and mental health professionals are available to assist responding officers where required.
  • Continuously develop and enhance Crisis Intervention and De-escalation training/Incident Management Intervention Model training for all officers.

The eighth recommendation is directed to BC’s Coroners Service and Chief Coroner:

  • Inquests should be held in a timely manner/as soon as possible following a death.

The final recommendation is to the Attorney General of BC:

  • Review current mandate and emend the statute to empower the Independent Investigations Office to make formal recommendations.

Before the jury explained some of their reasoning behind recommendations, they acknowledged that the day was exactly seven days and seven years since the passing of De Groot, expressing their condolences to the family. One juror recalls hearing evidence that cameras provide substantial evidence and that inconsistent evidence could have been clarified with video evidence. The juror also recalls instances where witnesses struggled to recall certain events or officers saying they were unable to discuss the incident for seven years.

De Groot died five kilometres Northwest of Slocan due to Exsanguination (severe loss of blood) caused by a Laceration to the Superior Vena Cava (major vein that carries blood from the head, neck, upper chest, and arms to the heart) following a gunshot injury to the thorax.