Injustice Continues: Crown Stays Obstruction Charges Against RCMP Officer In Dale Culver Case

May 14, 2024 | Uncategorized

Gitanyow Lax’yip, May 14, 2024: The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs vehemently condemn the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) for continuing to fail the family of Dale Culver.

In May 2020, following a thorough investigation of Culver’s death by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), manslaughter charges were recommended for Constables Paul Ste-Marie and Jean Francois Monette, while obstruction of justice charges were recommended for Sergeant Jon Eusebio Cruz and Constables Arthur Dalman and Clarence MacDonald.

However, the pursuit of justice has been marred by setbacks. On April 5, 2024, the manslaughter charges against Ste-Marie and Monette were stayed and now Cst. Clarence MacDonald’s obstruction charges are also stayed. Only two of the five officers recommended for charges will face legal action.

In July 2017, Dale Culver, a 35-year-old member of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitksan Nations died in police custody after being chased for riding a bike without a helmet. Cell phone footage and photos of the encounter show several officers pinning Culver to the ground. He was then pepper sprayed during a struggle and later had trouble breathing and collapsed. Culver was pronounced dead shortly after in hospital.

“This latest development is another devastating blow to the Culver family and the Indigenous community,” says Joel Starlund/Sk’a’nism Tsa ‘Win’Giit, Executive Director of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.

“It further underscores the systemic failures within the BC Prosecution Service to hold police accountable. We refuse to accept this injustice and will continue to advocate for accountability and a public inquiry into RCMP deaths of Indigenous peoples.”

According to Ron MacDonald, former Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, less than half of the recommended charges against police officers have been approved by the prosecution service in the past five years.

MacDonald publicly expressed his frustration with the BCPS’s reluctance to prosecute officers and planned to submit a report on the situation before retiring from his position last week.

“It’s important that we see the Chief Civilian Director’s report; his concerns must be made public,” says Debbie Pierre, cousin of Dale Culver and Operations Manager for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.

“We have seen so many failures and disappointments that my family has lost all confidence in BCPS. We are furious knowing that police officers who were involved in Dale’s death will not face any consequences. I’m pretty sure the writing is on the wall, but we won’t stop fighting for justice.”

The Culver family will attend pretrial applications at the Prince George Courthouse today at 9:30 am.