British Columbia

Officers 'not negligent' in overdose death of B.C. teen that went viral, police watchdog says

The delayed response of two police officers in finding a 14-year-old boy who died from an overdose at a Langley, B.C., park last summer did not play a role in his death, according to a report released Monday by the province's police watchdog.

IIO report says officers searched skate park but had no info about the boy's real location

A memorial for Carson Crimeni, 14, at the Walnut Grove skate park in Langley, B.C., is pictured on Aug. 22. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

On the evening of Aug. 7, two police officers searched a skate park in vain after receiving a report about a Snapchat photo that apparently showed a 14-year-old teenage boy overdosing at the site in Langley, B.C.

There were no signs of the teen and after 20 minutes, the officers left.

Just 650 metres away, Carson Crimeni lay in a baseball diamond. He was found two hours later and rushed to hospital for a drug overdose but did not survive.

A report released Monday by the province's police watchdog concluded the two RCMP officers were not negligent in their search and the delay did not play a role in Carson's death. 

"Unfortunately, there was nothing at the skate park to assist the officers in determining where [Carson] might have gone — how far and in which direction," Ronald J. MacDonald, chief civilian officer with the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), wrote in his report.

"The actions of the officers were not negligent. They acted completely reasonably in the circumstances."

The IIO said the case will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Aron Crimeni visits the baseball diamond where his son, Carson, was found. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Carson's family said it believes someone gave the boy drugs at the skate park. His death was filmed and posted on social media, raising questions about its desensitizing effect on teens.

The IIO announced in late August that it would investigate to see "what role, if any, the officers' actions or inaction may have played in the incident that followed."

Aron Crimeni, Carson's father, said Monday that he read the report and does not believe police were responsible for his son's death. Crimeni said he has heard from witnesses who reported the boy was moved to a second location after police were seen approaching.

"There's always going to be a what if," he said. "Do I wish that [police] had maybe tried harder? Of course. But considering the phone call that they got … I don't think there's real situation where they would have done more."

No sight of Carson

According to the report, Carson consumed a large quantity of drugs in the afternoon and evening of Aug. 7 at the skate park while he was with other teens.

By 7 p.m. PT, evidence showed the boy was at a baseball diamond on the far side of a community centre and a secondary school, the report said.

At 8:01 p.m., a parent phoned 911 to report a Snapchat photo that her daughter had received an hour earlier showing a teen boy at a skate park who looked "out of it."

The parent told the dispatcher it was believed Carson had taken 15 capsules of MDMA, also known as ecstasy. She noted Carson was with a group of teens, but did not know where exactly he was.

Two officers were dispatched to the skate park at 8:08 p.m. They arrived at 8:25 p.m. and an ambulance came shortly after.

The officers stayed for about 20 minutes. According to the report, they told paramedics that no one had approached them for help, and they could not find anyone in distress.

Carson's death, filmed and posted on social media, ignited questions about bullying and a lack of empathy among teens. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

'The report could have been false'

A witness who saw the officers told investigators that it appeared the officers were unsure if the 911 call was genuine or a hoax. A second witness also saw the two officers appearing to search for someone outside.

The officers didn't know the Snapchat photo was more than an hour old by that point, the report said.

"For all they knew, the report could have been false, and even if taken at face value, it lacked detail about the exact place and time at which the distressed youth had first been seen."

The officers were dispatched at 8:43 p.m. to another call in the area.

At 10:39 p.m., a second 911 call came in after Carson was discovered at a baseball diamond.

The police watchdog report said the officers did not have any information about Carson's actual location and condition, noting the field was obstructed by buildings from the skate park.

Aron Crimeni said police are still investigating his son's death and he expects charges to be laid in a month or two.

He said a permanent memorial for Carson, who played minor hockey, will be installed in the next few weeks inside the Langley Sportsplex. It will feature a plaque and a jersey embossed with Carson's name.

Carson's father weeps while sitting in his son's bedroom in Langley on Aug. 9. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

About the Author

Alex Migdal

Journalist

Alex Migdal is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He's previously reported for The Globe and Mail, Guelph Mercury and Edmonton Journal. You can reach him at alex.migdal@cbc.ca.

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