Investigators with B.C.'s newly formed Independent Investigations Office have been called to Prince George to investigate a fatal police shooting, just hours after the new civilian team began its first day of operations on Monday.
The RCMP have not released many details of the shooting, except to say the incident began Sunday morning when police staked out a property in a rural area south of Prince George, following reports of a serious crime.
The police statement said only that one shot was fired during an interaction between police and a suspect on Monday evening, but no police officer was injured.
On Tuesday morning, the newly formed Independent Investigations Office (IIO) confirmed someone was killed.
Spokesman Owen Court said seven investigators were sent to Prince George late Monday night, just hours after the new civilian investigation team began its first day of operations in Vancouver. The team officially took over the investigation just after midnight early Tuesday.
In a written release, the IIO said it's expected 10 staff members will be in Prince George by late Tuesday morning.
Once the IIO investigation is complete, chief civilian director David Rosenthal will decide whether he believes an offence may have occurred and forward a report to Crown counsel if warranted.
Family land dispute
While police and the IIO have released few details about the shooting, CBC News is learning more about the victim.
Neil Busse confirmed his cousin Greg Matters, 40, was shot by police at his rural property southeast of Prince George.
"This is all over a family dispute over land," Busse said.
"A standoff of some sort happened. They didn't know where he was. He was cutting wood in his grandfather's wood shed. From what I've heard from family, RCMP are saying that he was in a threatening manner with an axe."
Busse says Matters was a former peacekeeping officer who served in Bosnia, and had previous run-ins with police.
Busse is upset with the lack of information and support his family has received from the RCMP.
B.C. 4th province to launch independent watchdog
The incident is the first case for the much-anticipated IIO, which will be responsible for reviewing police incidents involving fatalities or serious injury. The office will oversee RCMP and municipal forces, as well as transit police forces.
The IIO will consist of roughly 36 investigators as well as dozens of support staff and legal counsel with an equal split between experienced civilian investigators and former police officers, none of whom have served in the past five years.
The civilian-led oversight agency was set up after complaints about police investigating themselves in cases of civilian deaths or injuries, including the shooting death of Ian Bush in 2005 and the 2007 stun gun death of Robert Dziekanksi.