Dale Culver’s family held a rally outside Prince George’s courthouse after the B.C. Prosecution Service delayed the hearing into RCMP misconduct.
The family has been waiting for nearly six years for answers after Culver, a Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan 35-year-old father of three, died during an arrest by RCMP in Prince George in 2017.
The officers allege that he attempted to flee on a bike and was then pepper sprayed while being taken into custody. Culver collapsed and died shortly after, according to the Independent Investigations Office of B.C, or IIO report.
Lily Speed-Namox was a teenager when her father was killed. Now 20, her teenage years were spent waiting for the results of the inquiry into his death.
Speed-Namox said that even though the case is delayed, they will not stop seeking justice.
“We had to show our support today and show that even though they might have moved the date, we’re not going to stop; we are not going to move; this is still my dad’s case.
“That was my dad’s life that was taken away, that means the world to us,” she said.
It was after the inquiry that charges against five Prince George RCMP officers were approved. The five officers who faced charges were due to appear in court on March 14, but the trial is now delayed until early May.
Virginia Pierre, Dale Culver’s aunt who raised him along with her late husband, stood outside the courts along with her family holding a sign that read “Indigenous Lives Matter.”
She said it took 72 hours after he died until the B.C. RCMP notified them.
Earlier this week, the family held a press conference calling for systemic changes.
Pierre expressed frustration with how long it has taken to find answers.
“72 hours before we found out he’s gone, now we’re waiting over six years, then all of a sudden nothing is happening tomorrow; there is something wrong here, “she said.
Last month, the crown charged two Prince George RCMP officers with manslaughter in Culver’s death.
Three additional officers are facing obstruction of justice charges.
At the press conference, Debbie Pierre, Dale Culver’s cousin, said she had doubts that officers would face charges, but she was relieved to find out the crown was moving ahead with charges.
“I really felt it was not going to proceed because this has happened across Canada for how many generations now, and it gives me hope, but it also much uncertainty,” she said.
In an emailed statement to APTN News, Cpl. Madonna Saunderson, media relations from BC RCMP E Division, wrote that the RCMP had cooperated with the investigations.
“The BC RCMP fully cooperated with the IIO BC during their investigation, and fully supports independent investigations, and judicial reviews of police-involved incidents as required,” the statement read.
“We do have concerns regarding the nearly six-year timeline in this instance though as it put undue stress on the man’s family, our members and their families, and the community which has been looking for clarity and answers on what occurred,”
Saunderson confirmed that the RCMP officers are all still employed and on-duty.
BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations called for change along with the family at the press conference.
He listed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, MMIW Inquiry and other plans and commissions as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and called on all of the proposed calls to action to be completed.
In 2020, his family member, Everett Patrick, a 42-year-old father from the Lake Babine Nation, died after suffering a severe injury in the Prince George’s detachment.
Last year, the IIO asked the Crown to consider charges against one officer. As APTN previously reported the BC Prosecution Service says they do not have a timeline for their decision.
Prosecution service in B.C. reviewing case of Lake Babine Nation man’s death in custody
At the press conference on Monday, Lily Speed-Namox expressed frustration that the officers were still on active duty, yet she and her siblings could not see their dad.
She expressed that their family wants an apology from the officers involved in her father’s tragic death.
For the past six years, she has continued to work through The grief and has been a powerful advocate calling for changes in policing in Canada.
She says she won’t let her dad’s memory be forgotten.
“He was my dad and the dad of my two younger siblings, and that needs to be known he was a person, he wasn’t an item or a piece of paper, he was a person just like you and I, and he deserved to live.”