British Columbia

Charges stayed against RCMP officer who fatally shot South Surrey man

Charges against the RCMP officer accused of fatally shooting a Surrey, B.C., man in 2015 have been stayed.

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran was charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon

Beaudry Brooks with a spray-painted tribute to his brother Hudson Brooks. (Jesse Johnston)

Charges against the RCMP officer accused of fatally shooting a Surrey, B.C., man in 2015 have been stayed.

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran fired 12 shots at Hudson Brooks, 20, near the RCMP South Surrey detachment on 152 Street near 18 Avenue, hitting him nine times and hitting her own leg once.

Cucheran was later charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Crown spokesperson Dan McLaughlin says that after analyzing the evidence that was presented at Cucheran's preliminary inquiry last year, the case no longer satisfies the charge assessment threshold.

"The Crown is now of the view that the evidence strongly establishes that resort to her firearm was entirely reasonable in the circumstances," he said in an emailed statement.

Hudson's brother, Beau Brooks, says the family was informed of the Crown's decision Wednesday morning.

"We're pretty devastated," Brooks said. "There's no justice."

About 100 people came to remember Hudson Brooks on the anniversary of his shooting death in South Surrey in July 2016. (CBC)

Police SUV was attacked: Crown

Brooks was wearing only boxer shorts as he walked down 152 Street in the early morning hours of July 18, 2015, loudly saying, "Kill me!", "They're going to kill me!", and "Sorry, mom!"

As an RCMP officer was pulling out of the detachment's parkade in an SUV to investigate, he spotted Brooks just outside.

"Mr. Brooks proceeded to attack [the officer's] SUV," the Crown's report stated.

"[The officer] locked his doors, activated his emergency lights and air horn and called for help over the radio. According to [the officer], Mr. Brooks was screaming incoherently, yelling, "Kill you! Kill me! Kill you!"

Officer fired pistol several times

The officer in the SUV radioed for help as Cucheran ran out of the detachment toward the exit of the parkade.

She was wearing her full uniform and was armed with her service pistol, baton and pepper spray.

Both Cucheran and the other officer on scene say that Brooks, who had consumed large amounts of alcohol and cocaine, didn't appear to have anything his hands.

According to evidence presented at the preliminary inquiry, Brooks moved toward Cucheran as she backed away and fired her pistol several times.

As Cucheran retreated, she tripped over a ledge and fell.

According to testimony from the other officer on scene, Brooks fell at her feet and then fell on top of her.

The other officer said Cucheran fired her pistol "one or two" more times before he helped pull Cucheran out from under Brooks, and then pepper-sprayed him.

The memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment has been immaculately kept by his friends and family. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Reason for charges

The Crown initially determined Cucheran was justified in firing her gun when Brooks was on top of her, but she used excessive force by shooting at him while he approached her.

"The pathology evidence indicates Mr. Brooks' death was caused by a close range shot to his chest, fired when Cucheran had no reasonable alternative for defending herself," it said in the Crown's statement.

"For that reason, homicide charges were not approved."

Cucheran was charged with the lesser charges on December 2017.

'Resort to her firearm was entirely reasonable'

The Crown's original position was that Cucheran could have used a Taser to subdue Brooks instead of firing her pistol.

After hearing from use of force experts at the preliminary inquiry, however, the Crown determined it was unlikely that a jury would find Cucheran guilty.

The Crown says all experts agree that Brooks may have been experiencing excited delirium, also known as cocaine psychosis, which can neutralize the effects of a Taser.

"The Crown is unable to prove that Const. Cucheran's failure to use the Taser when Mr. Brooks initially attacked her resulted from or reflected any blameworthy conduct on her part," the Crown said.

"The Crown is now of the view that the evidence strongly establishes that resort to her firearm was entirely reasonable in the circumstances."

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