VICTORIA — Charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon have been stayed against an RCMP officer who shot a man nine times during a confrontation in Surrey, B.C.
Documents released by British Columbia’s prosecution service say while evidence shows Const. Elizabeth Cucheran fired the shots at 20-year-old Hudson Brooks, the law is clear that even the mistaken belief in the need to use lethal force is a complete defence.
The service says Brooks had consumed significant quantities of alcohol and cocaine when he was in the parkade at the Surrey RCMP detachment on July 18, 2015.
It says Brooks was shoeless and wearing only boxer shorts, and screamed “Kill you! Kill me! Kill you!” as he used his fists, knees and shoulder to hammer at the driver’s door and windows of an officer’s SUV.
The prosecution service says when other officers confronted Brooks, he charged Cucheran, who stepped backwards while firing at him until she tripped and Brooks fell at her feet then crawled on top of her.
It says Cucheran fired her weapon 12 times, hitting Brooks nine times and shot herself in the leg while she was on her back.
Initially, the Crown concluded that the shots the officer fired weren’t legally justifiable.
“While there was no doubt she was entitled to use some degree of force to defend herself as Mr. Brooks approached, the Crown was satisfied she was not entitled to resort to lethal force as soon as she did,” the prosecution service says in a statement.
But it said the evidence brought out at a preliminary inquiry significantly weakened the foundation of the Crown theory that a Taser provided a reasonable force option for the officer to use to try to stop Brooks.
It said testimony at the preliminary inquiry from experts meant the Crown was unable to prove that Cucheran’s failure to use the Taser when Brooks initially attacked her resulted from “any blameworthy conduct” on her part.
“The Crown is now of the view that the evidence strongly establishes that resort to her firearm was entirely reasonable in the circumstances.”
The prosecution service said it recognizes the case has attracted considerable public attention.
“The (service) also appreciates the importance of transparency in maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice, especially in relation to the use of lethal force by police officers.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2019.
The Canadian Press