The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. has determined that the actions of West Shore RCMP officers attending to reports of a woman in distress did not contribute to the tragic outcome.
In a report released Nov. 19, Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO, concluded that “the subject officer displayed professionalism, compassion and courage in his interactions” with a distraught woman, who died after jumping off the Goldstream trestle bridge.
Based on evidence collected at the scene and statements from civilian witnesses, MacDonald said the actions of the officer involved did not in any way contribute to the woman’s death, and the evidence collected does not provide grounds to consider any charges.
Police responded to a report of a distraught woman contemplating taking her own life at the trestle in Goldstream Provincial park at about 3 p.m. West Shore RCMP officers arrived at about 3:15, and approached the woman, who was speaking with a civilian trying to comfort her.
The civilian was able to convince the woman to move from the centre of the bridge a number of times during the course of a few minutes. She was seated and talking to the woman trying to comfort her when she saw police had arrived and ran back toward the centre of the bridge. Another witness said the woman’s mood seemed to change several times, alternating from silence to crying and yelling, the report noted. At one point she appeared to have calmed down.
She was speaking to the officer who was trying to comfort her and had been holding his hand when she released his hand, stood up and jumped from the bridge at 3:36, despite the officer’s efforts to stop her.
MacDonald also praised a 17-year-old woman who was at the scene for her “significant courage and kindness” in dealing with the victim, who she did not know, in his report. MacDonald said it was a tragic incident that had potentially placed others in danger and impacted everyone involved.
The purpose of any IIO investigation is to determine whether any officer, through an action or inaction, may have committed any offence in relation to an incident that led to someone’s death.