B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia has cleared police officers of wrongdoing in a March 2019 fatal Surrey shooting.
“The evidence demonstrates that the involved officers were acting within their lawful duties in responding to what was clearly a dangerous hostage-taking incident,” the report said.
As such, no charges will be laid against officers involved.
Members of the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team responded to a report of a hostage taking.
The male hostage taker was fatally shot by police and the female hostage was critically injured and later died.
While the pair is not named in the report, they were identified at the time as Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan said, through the IIO investigation, “We later learned that the injuries that the woman sustained were a result of police gun fire.”
“From the day this incident took place, our thoughts have been with them as they have suffered an unimaginable loss,” Strachan said.
The report said the man had been threatening to kill the hostage, necessitating police entry into the residence. Neighbours reported having heard a shot and screaming.
Officers found Crosson holding McEwan in front of him with a knife to her throat and what appeared to be a gun in his other hand. Several officers fired, killing Crosson and wounding McEwan.
Prior to entering the house, police saw cameras they believed were being used to monitor their movements.
The report also said officers saw what was believed to be a gun pointed at a tactical vehicle while Crosson was yelling for them to leave.
Police had called for the man to come out but he refused.
He was also heard yelling, “It’s a good day to die,” and “Tell those pigs to leave my house, or I will come out and shoot them.”
And attempt was made using a robot to deliver a cell phone to the house.
Soon after, they heard him say, “You have one hour and I’m going to kill her. Time starts now.”
At that point, police decided to go in. One officer told the IIO his risk assessment was the highest it had been in his career.
Entering a dimly lit room, police found the man on his back on a bed, the woman on top of him as a shield.
“Upon seeing this, I immediately believed there was an imminent threat of death to the hostage, as well as myself and the other entry team members,” an officer told the IIO.
Officers began firing.
As soon as it stopped, McEwan was removed and given medical help for two gunshots.
Crosson died from multiple gunshot wounds. Toxicology tests found methamphetamine, amphetamine, fentanyl, norfentanyl, heroin, ethanol, THC and naloxone in his system.
Police found a replica pistol, a knife, a so-called ‘bear banger” firing device adapted as a firearm, air guns, knives and a homemade Taser.
Forty-two police cartridge cases were recovered from the scene.
Strachan said such police units receive specialized training and equipment to deal with potentially volatile and dangerous situations such as hostage takings.
“Our hope is to never have to use that training or equipment, but to be available and ready when needed,” Strachan said. “Each police-involved incident is unique and, despite extensive training, can unfold in unpredictable ways.”