Mounties cleared of wrongdoing in death of Vancouver Island man after search of his home

Investigators from B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office are seen in this file photo from the IIO.

British Columbia’s police watchdog has cleared the Mounties of any wrongdoing in the death of a Courtenay man who died by suicide following a search of his home.

Comox Valley RCMP executed the search warrant on Aug. 17, 2020. Twelve hours later, the subject of the search warrant was found dead of a drug overdose. The man had left a note near his body, saying, “I told the blond cop this was going to happen.”

On Thursday, the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) released its findings into the man’s death.

The IIO report details how three RCMP officers attended the man’s home with a search warrant related to “a range of offences.”

One of the officers recorded audio of their encounter with the man while the other officers searched the home.

During the conversation, the man told police that he wanted to kill himself.

“When you say these things to me, as a police officer I have to take these things very seriously, OK?” the officer responded, according to the IIO report. “If you really feel that way, then it’s my obligation as a human being and as a police officer to make sure that you are safe.”

After 52 minutes of conversation, the man told the officer he no longer intended to kill himself and gave “concrete and compelling” reasons why he wanted to live, according to the report.

Two of the man’s roommates were home at the time of the search and reported that they did not overhear the conversation between the man and the police officer.

All three Mounties left the home at 9:06 a.m.

A short time later, one of the roommates called police to ask if they were coming back to the home. An officer said they were not coming back and then briefly spoke with the man who was the subject of the warrant to get his date of birth.

The roommate called police again approximately 12 hours later after not seeing the man all day.

Police came back to the home and found the man dead in his bedroom of an apparent drug overdose.

The IIO’s chief civilian director, Ronald J. MacDonald, said in his decision Thursday that the responding officers acted with reasonable care in the situation and there is no evidence that any offence was committed by police.