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Culver’s family “hurt and frustrated” after manslaughter charges dropped against PG RCMP members

Manslaughter charges against two members of the Prince George RCMP were dropped by the BC Prosecution Service in a Stay of Proceedings this afternoon.

The charges were related to the death of Dale Culver seven years ago, who died in the RCMP’s custody after a very physical police encounter and arrest.

The details of the charges that were dropped against the two officers and this afternoon’s court proceedings can be found here.

In summary, the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) reported Culver was approached by an officer who suspected he had been casing cars on the evening of July 18th, 2017.

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After trying to run from the first officer, and resisting arrest when caught, Culver was pepper sprayed and hit multiple times while seven officers attempted to handcuff him and get him in the back of a police vehicle.

About a half hour after the physical altercation was over, Culver was dead.

An initial pathologists’ report and review found six factors contributing to Culver’s death, including methamphetamine toxicity and blunt force head trauma, which is what led to the officers – Constable Paul Ste-Marie and Constable Jean Francois Monette – being charged with manslaughter.

However a second report from a different pathologist did not agree with the findings of the first, instead they found the cause of death to be “acute and chronic adverse effects of methamphetamine following a struggle. The mechanism of death was sudden cardiac (arrhythmic) death.”

The report said Culver had an enlarged and weakened heart caused by methamphetamine use.

This led the BCPS to conclude “there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction against the two officers charged with manslaughter.”

In court this afternoon, Crown Counsel said “Dale Culver did not deserve to die, and he should not have died that day… He would not have died that day if not for this altercation with police.”

Culver’s family was made aware of what the result of today’s hearing would be earlier in the week.

Around 100 people gathered in front of the courthouse before the session was set to begin to demonstrate their anger and frustrations with the criminal justice system, and more than half of them entered the court to witness the Crown Counsel announce the Stay of Proceedings.

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Dale Culver’s family, friends, and supporters gathered in front of the Prince George Courthouse prior to two RCMP officers’ manslaughter charges being dropped (Photo by Will Peters, My PG Now)

“To call our system a justice system is not true, otherwise we would not be standing here with no justice today,” Lily Speed-Namox, Culver’s now 21-year-old daughter, told the media after the hearing. “The fact is, whether or not my Dad had a heart condition, what caused the heart attack was those RCMP officers. There is nothing else to say beyond that.”

“There is no doubt in my mind it is still those officers’ fault he is dead. Without that interaction that night, he would still be here today,” she said. “We have been dealing with this day-by-day, every day, for the last 7 years. It has only gotten harder.”

The first time Speed-Namox spoke out was inside the court after the hearing was adjourned.

As the judge and lawyers were preparing to leave, she called out to them saying “How would you feel if that was your father that died under those RCMP? How would you feel if you had been beaten to death by these RCMP and nobody is there to help you? Those are the people that are supposed to be giving you justice. It must be nice that they get to go home to their families every day, isn’t it? To see their sons, daughters, moms and cousins. Their friends. It must be nice.”

Debbie Pierre, Culver’s sister, spoke to the crowd of people before the court session started.

“It has been so heartbreaking over these seven years, and our journey for justice does not end here… I am not going anywhere, until the day I die I will seek justice for Dale,” she said.

“I am appalled that there will be no trial for manslaughter. I am angered to no end that we have been led through this process for seven years in hopes there would be justice…

“I am hurt. I am frustrated. I don’t feel safe.”

Dale Culver’s family, friends, and supporters gathered in front of the Prince George Courthouse prior to two RCMP officers’ manslaughter charges being dropped (Photo by Will Peters, My PG Now)

Pierre said the family will be filing an inquiry with the courts to get more information from the RCMP and from the pathologists who wrote each report.

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“I want to know why this continues to happen,” she said. “We are done. We are so done.”

“I had to share this information with my family yesterday – my auntie Sandra Patrick, mother of Everett Patrick. She screamed ‘how can they continue to get away with this!’ Everett’s file was the same thing,” Pierre said.

Terry Teegee, the elected Regional Chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations and the cousin of Everett Patrick, also spoke in front of the courthouse.

“First Nations peoples in this country are 10 times more likely to be injured and killed in custody,” Teegee told the crowd. “There is something really wrong in this country.”

“It is immense sadness that I am here. That I have to come here, that we all have to come here knowing we won’t get justice,” he said.

BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee addresses the crowd in front of the Prince George Courthouse (Photo by Will Peters, My PG Now)

Elgin Cutler, the Chief of the Witset First Nation, spoke next.

“We grew up with Dale as a part of our community… It makes no sense to any of us… I hope someone has it in their heart to speak the truth. There were six [officers] there and someone knows something they aren’t saying.”

“I could rattle off names, that is unacceptable to know this many people pass in these systems,” Cutler continued. “They are supposed to be protected. I can’t for the life of me understand why six men can’t safely take someone in.”

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Hereditary Chief Na’mok of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation said “I want to say I will be shocked and appalled by what will be announced in here today. But I am not shocked.”

“The ones that should be appalled are the world, Canada, the province, for what is happening… When Canada can be on the world stage and brag about how great and free it is, yet we have to worry about our loved ones dying on a daily basis, there is something wrong with this country.”

After court was adjourned, Pierre said “having to walk through this over and over for seven years – had this been reversed it would have been dealt with in the same year.”

“This needs to stop… we don’t feel safe. Who do we call when we need policing? Things need to change.”

Cst. Arthur Dalman, Cst. Clarence (Alex) Alexander MacDonald, and Sgt. Bayani (Jon) Eusebio Cruz are all still facing attempt to obstruct justice charges related to Culver’s death. They have also pled not guilty.

Speed-Namox is hopeful her family will see charges laid in that case, saying “I have a lot more optimism for that one after what happened today. Seeing as how nothing came of this one, hopefully a lot more will come of the next one.”

You can find the full BCPS report on the Culver case here.

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