British Columbia

Family of deceased Whistler man sue RCMP, allege excessive force

Documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court claim four officers Tasered, pepper sprayed and beat Jason Koehler to death at a Whistler restaurant the morning of March 8, 2020.

Civil claim says 4 officers Tasered, pepper sprayed and beat Jason Koehler at a Whistler restaurant

The family of Jason Koehler alleges that excessive force by the Whistler RCMP led to his death. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

A civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court by the family of deceased Whistler man Jason Koehler alleges he was killed because of "excessive force" by four RCMP officers.

The document says RCMP were called to a Whistler restaurant at around 11 a.m. PT on March 8 after receiving reports of a disturbance.

It says the first three officers who attended "resorted to the use of physical force ... including using a Taser ... with little effort to de-escalate the situation and no reason to believe bodily harm to anyone was imminent." 

The claim says a fourth officer arrived on scene and "in addition to using excessive force, acted in an intentional or extremely reckless manner."

The claim says Koehler was Tasered, pepper sprayed and beaten with batons by the four officers, "to the point that he lost consciousness on the scene and could not be revived." 

He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Police watchdog is investigating

According to the claim, Koehler ran a successful smoking accessory store in Whistler and suffered mental health issues, which had previously brought him into contact with police. 

The day after his death, the RCMP issued a release saying the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia was investigating the incident.

It says officers were called to a complaint of an intoxicated man who was causing a disturbance.  

"During their interaction with him the attending officers deployed OC spray, a conducted energy weapon and used their batons in an effort to gain control of him," reads the release.

"The male suddenly became still and officers began CPR and called emergency health services. He was transported to hospital but was pronounced deceased."

The Koehler family is seeking compensation for funeral expenses, loss of inheritance and other damages.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and no response has been filed.