A coroner's jury has ruled the death of Canadian Forces veteran Greg Matters was a homicide, and has made nine recommendations following an inquest.
Matters was shot and killed by RCMP at his rural Prince George home in Sept. 2012, following a 30-hour standoff with a police emergency response team (ERT). Police claim he was armed with a hatchet at the time of the incident.
The then 40-year-old suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by his 15 years of military service.
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B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office cleared the RCMP officers involved in the fatal shooting in May 2013. However, a coroner's inquest into his death began five months later.
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On Thursday, the inquest classified Matters' death a homicide, caused by two gunshot wounds to the back. Along with that finding, which does not suggest criminal responsibility, the jury made nine recommendations.
Several recommendations are targeted toward the investigations process. One calls for ERTs to wear audio-visual recording equipment upon deployment. According to the Matters' family lawyer, Cameron Ward, this is the ninth time a coroner's jury has made that recommendation.
Others suggest that data from RCMP cell phones issued and used during incidents be collected and preserved for subsequent investigations.
Some of the recommendations are aimed at education, such as the training and utilizing of police dogs to apprehend armed subjects, and developing a program that teaches ERTs to use less lethal weapons. When Matters was shot, no ERT members knew how to use a bean bag shot gun, and only one was trained to use a taser.
The remaining recommendations involve mental health. They include making a qualified mental health professional available — and possibly on call — to all ERTs, providing RCMP with mental health training within their first year of active duty, creating programs to monitor the overall well-being of current and former Canadian Forces members, and ensuring current and former Canadian Forces members and their families are provided with adequate support.
Matters' sister, Tracey Matters, said she is pleased with the recommendations.
"They're all very well thought out, and the recommendations are Greg's legacy. And we believe that Greg would be absolutely delighted about the work that the jury has done on his behalf really."
In total, seven recommendations are directed toward the Minister of Justice, the director of police services, the province of B.C., and the commanding officer of the RCMP. The other two are directed at the Department of National Defence, the Government of Canada, and Veterans Affairs.