British Columbia’s highest court has ordered seven police officers to fully co-operate with an investigation into the shooting death of a robbery suspect in 2016.
The B.C. Appeal Court decision released Monday is the latest legal fight involving the provincial police watchdog over the interpretation of the duty of a police officer to co-operate with its investigations.
The dispute stems from the fatal shooting of a man outside a Canadian Tire store in Vancouver by one of several officers who attended the scene of the robbery.
When the Independent Investigations Office asked officers who witnessed what happened to appear for compulsory interviews, the officers asked for audio, video and other evidence before and during the incident, but the civilian-led agency wouldn’t give them the information before an interview.
The officers then refused to take part in the process and the investigations office went to court.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the officers had an obligation to co-operate with the probe, which was challenged at the Court of Appeal.
Writing for the three-member Appeal Court panel in a unanimous ruling, Justice David Harris says its the officers’ legal duty to co-operate under the law.
“It is common ground that an important objective of an independent and transparent investigative body is the maintenance of public confidence in the police and the justice system as a whole,” the ruling says.