‘He’ll never get to see me graduate’: Daughter regrets stolen time as RCMP officers charged in father’s death

The family of an Indigenous man who died after being arrested by RCMP nearly six years ago are welcoming criminal charges against five officers but say they can't understand why it took half a decade for the charges to be laid.

'I don't think there should be any reason for it to take this long,' says Lily Speed-Namox, 20

A man and woman are seated in a backyard with a toddler standing between them.

The family of an Indigenous man who died after being arrested by RCMP nearly six years ago are welcoming criminal charges against five officers but say they can't understand why it took half a decade for the charges to be laid.

Lily Speed-Namox was a teenager when her father, Dale Culver, died after having trouble breathing following his arrest in Prince George, B.C., in 2017. She's spent roughly a quarter of her life since waiting for the investigation to move forward.

"It has taken a long time to get to where we are," said Speed-Namox, now 20, speaking in an interview on Thursday.

"I don't think there should be any reason for it to take this long."

Culver, 35, was a father of three and a member of the Wet'suwet'en and Gitxsan First Nations. His son and second daughter were four and six months old, respectively, when he died.

"He didn't get to see my little brother start his first day of school. He didn't get to see me graduate. He won't be able to see me get married," said Speed-Namox, who's worn a heart-shaped necklace containing her father's ashes since her 15th birthday.

"He'll never be able to see my little sister start kindergarten or graduate or anything like that … That's a hard pill to swallow."

Watch | Lily Speed-Namox speaks about her father:

Daughter of man who died in RCMP custody regrets the memories they'll never get to make

5 hours ago

Duration 1:12

Lily Speed-Namox was just 14 when her father, Dale Culver, died in police custody. Her siblings were even younger. After five RCMP officers were charged in Culver's death, Speed-Namox says the memories they'll never get to make with him is "a hard pill to swallow."

Culver was arrested after police were called about a man allegedly casing vehicles, according to B.C.'s police watchdog. A report said he was pepper sprayed during a struggle, had trouble breathing and died.

On Wednesday, Crown prosecutors announced two Mounties had been charged with manslaughter in connection with Culver's death. Three more officers were charged with obstruction of justice in relation to events that took place immediately after Culver died.

Constables Paul Ste-Marie and Jean Francois Monette face charges of manslaughter.

Const. Arthur Dalman, Const. Clarence (Alex) Alexander MacDonald and Sgt. Bayani (Jon) Eusebio Cruz face the attempted obstruction charges.

All five officers are due in court on March 14.

Allegations officers told witnesses to delete video

In Canada, manslaughter is defined as homicide committed without an intent to cause death, although there may be an intention to cause bodily harm.

Obstruction is an offence that requires "a wilful attempt by an accused, in any manner, to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice."

In 2018, the BCCLA filed a formal complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, alleging Mounties had told witnesses to delete video footage of Culver's arrest.

The association also questioned whether "explicit or implicit racial bias" had played a role in the case. The complaint said the BCCLA was told there were "several hours" between the initial call to police and the arrival of RCMP on the scene, raising questions about whether Culver was approached because he was Indigenous.

Officers remain on active duty

Four of the five officers — Ste-Marie, Monette, Dalman and Cruz — remain on active duty. Macdonald is on administrative leave for reasons unrelated to Culver's death, RCMP said in an email.

A man with a sideways baseball cap smiles wide at the camera in front of a red velour background.

Speed-Namox said she believes her dad would not have had similar freedoms if the roles had been reversed.

"If RCMP and my dad had switched roles, it wouldn't have gone this way," she said. "My dad would've been put in custody, and he would've been held in jail."

An independent review in 2019 found "reasonable grounds'' to believe two officers may have committed offences related to use of force and three others may have obstructed justice, but the Crown was not handed a final report until 2020.

Charge approval took nearly three more years.

"It has taken too long to get to this stage, and we know that we are still at the beginning of our quest for justice for Dale," read a statement from Debbie Pierre, Culver's next of kin.

Police watchdog agrees delay unreasonable

On Thursday, the head of B.C.'s police watchdog said he saw eye to eye with the family who said it was taking too long for justice to be served.

"To be blunt —I agree. The time it has taken to lay charges in this very serious matter is unacceptable," said Ronald MacDonald, chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

A statement issued by MacDonald said recruiting qualified investigators has been an ongoing challenge and described Culver's case as "exceptionally complex and … extraordinarily demanding."

Charges against RCMP being considered in death of uncle

Speed-Namox said she speaks about her dad to push for change in policing.

"I don't want my dad's death to be for nothing," she said.

Culver's death led to allegations of anti-Indigenous racism in policing and was a focus during a number of protests in northern B.C. following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

A teenaged girl holds up a microphone for a speaker at a rally.

Another name shared at one of those rallies was that of Speed-Namox's uncle, Everett Patrick.

The 42-year-old member of the Lake Babine Nation died in hospital in Prince George in April 2020 after being arrested by police.

In March 2022, the Independent Investigations Office asked the Crown to consider charges against an RCMP member involved in the arrest.

"Upon completion of the investigation, Chief Civilian Director Ronald J. MacDonald … reviewed the evidence and determined that reasonable grounds exist to believe that an officer may have committed offences in relation to the standard of care Mr. Patrick received," a statement issued by the office said at the time.

The Crown has not released a decision on those recommendations.

Speed-Namox said these incidents have made her feel "unsafe" around police.

"I don't feel comfortable calling the RCMP for help with anything in any kind of way," she said. "It's scary."

With files from Andrew Kurjata, Renee Filippone, Yasmine Ghania and Eva Uguen-Csenge

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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