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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RCMP Complaints Commission Launches Probe into Clay Willey Death

November 24, 2009
By 250 News BC

Ottawa, Ont. – Acting on a request by the Solicitor General of British Columbia, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) is expanding its Chair-initiated complaint and public interest investigation into all Taser-related in-custody deaths and to look specifically into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Clay Alvin Willey in Prince George, B.C.on July 22, 2003.

CPC Chair Paul E. Kennedy initiated a public complaint on 15 January, 2009 into all incidents where individuals in the custody of the RCMP died following the use of a conducted energy weapon (CEW), which incidents have taken place anywhere in Canada between January 1, 2001 and January 1, 2009.

The arrest and subsequent death of Mr. Clay Alvin Willey in Prince George, is one of the incidents referred to in the complaint.

Mr. Willey's death was the subject of a Coroner's inquest conducted by the British Columbia Coroner's Service in October 2004. One of the pieces of evidence considered at the Coroner's inquest was a compilation of video footage from a number of security cameras located throughout the Prince George RCMP Detachment.

The Solicitor General of British Columbia has on behalf of the residents of British Columbia, raised concerns directly with the CPC regarding this incident and in particular with respect to the integrity of the video evidence relating to the arrest and detention of Mr. Willey. In correspondence to the CPC, the Solicitor General commented that members of the media have "raised concerns with the in-custody treatment of Mr. Willey and have expressed concern that the video in question has not been released to the public. Allegations have also been made in the media that further video evidence exists beyond that contained in the compilation video." Consequently, the Solicitor General requested that the CPC "review the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Willey so that British Columbians can have continued confidence in the RCMP."

The original complaint was initiated to examine:

•whether the RCMP officers involved in the aforementioned events, from the moment of initial contact with the individual until the time of each individual's death, complied with all appropriate training, policies, procedures, guidelines and statutory requirements relating to the use of force; and
•whether existing RCMP policies, procedures and guidelines applicable to such incidents are adequate.

Specific to Mr. Willey's death, the CPC will now also examine:

•whether the RCMP members involved in the investigation of Mr. Willey's arrest and subsequent death conducted an investigation that was adequate, and free of actual or perceived conflict of interest; and
•whether any other video evidence (other than the compilation video referred to above) exists and whether any RCMP member concealed, tampered with or otherwise inappropriately modified in any way, any evidence, in particular any video evidence, relating to the arrest of Mr. Willey.

The CPC has retained the services of a former chief of police from a large Ontario municipality to conduct this public interest investigation.

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