B.C.’s police watchdog agency will not recommend charges against two officers who went to investigate a disturbance at a Langley skate park but did not find Carson Crimeni, even though a caller had said the 14-year-old was in the area and in distress.
Carson, 14, died in August of a suspected drug overdose in an incident that was filmed, then shared on social media.
The Independent Investigations Office, which investigates all police-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, probed the conduct of two officers dispatched to the Walnut Grove Community Centre to look for the teen that night. They were called more than two hours before Carson’s death, but failed to find him.
“The actions of the officers were not negligent," Ronald MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office, writes in the report. "They acted completely reasonably in the circumstances.
“Certainly, had any information to suggest the location and condition of [Crimeni] been known at the time, the police could have reacted to it. As noted, however, there was none.”
The IIO report released on Monday notes that “given the nature of the initial complaint, [officers] had a duty to use reasonable efforts to attempt to locate” Carson, and who “may have been in medical distress and in need of help.”
Carson was not found until a second call to 911 was made at 10:39 p.m. At this point, he was barely breathing and later was declared dead in hospital.
The report states that at 8:25 p.m., when police arrived after the first 911 call, the group Carson was with “had moved to a location a “considerable distance” from the skate park.
“Nobody here. GOA [gone on arrival],” one radioed at 8:31. Twelve minutes later, they were dispatched to another call.
The existence of the 911 call at 8 p.m. was not made public until The Globe and Mail reported it later in August. That call came after a concerned teen saw a Snapchat photo of Carson and told her mother she was worried about his welfare.
“The IIO has commenced an investigation to determine what role, if any, the officers’ actions or inaction may have played in the incident that followed,” the agency said in August in a statement issued in response to a Globe inquiry about the 8 p.m. call.
The IIO report notes that Carson was found about 650 metres from the skate park “on the other side of a number of large buildings and other visual obstructions.”
Carson’s family earlier told The Globe they wondered whether the boy could have been saved had he received medical attention earlier, given that he was found behind the high school adjacent the skate park, a place frequented by young people.
“Kids are known to hang out there. It’s known to be a problem area,” Carson’s aunt, Diane Crimeni, 33, said at the time. “We just don’t understand why police didn’t do a walk-through of the area.”
The woman who made the initial 911 call could not immediately be reached to comment on the report.
Police say Carson died of a suspected overdose. An autopsy concluded the boy was in perfect health. His family has still not received a toxicology report.
The case has been the focus of intense media coverage.
In pictures and videos shot and posted to social media over several hours that night, teenagers can be seen and heard laughing at and catcalling Carson, who is red-faced and sweating profusely. The boy appears alternately frightened and confused.
One is captioned “12 year old tweaking on molly.”
The RCMP continue to investigate the boy’s death.
We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.