It was early afternoon on Boxing Day when Marcus Larabie stopped by his grandmother's home to drop off a bag of snacks and a discount copy of the movie Jingle All the Way.
"Nana, I'll be back later to watch it with you," the baby-faced 14-year-old said before long-boarding to a nearby mall to hang out with friends, according to his aunt, Sylvie Larabie.
But he never made it back for the planned movie night. Shortly after 6 p.m. that evening, as Marcus was leaving the Sevenoaks Shopping Centre in Abbotsford, a car driven by an off-duty police officer struck the boy at the intersection of Mill Lake Road and West Bourquin. The boy was airlifted to hospital but died shortly before midnight.
Marcus's mother, Charlene Larabie, said the family is not only devastated by his death, but angry with some news reports and online comments about the incident. She is particularly upset with reports that her son was dressed in all-black clothing – both inaccurate and which suggests he was at fault, she said – or that because it was an off-duty police officer behind the wheel, the accident is somehow more egregious.
"I'm tired of hearing the bashing, repeatedly, about the cop and Marcus," Ms. Larabie said on Sunday. "They're blaming one or the other … we don't know until the investigation is done. It was a tragic accident that happened and I just want to grieve without gossip, without lies."
Ms. Larabie described her son as a happy, fun-loving boy who loved his family, his friends, his Xbox and his long-board. She thanked those who have reached out to the family offering support.
Jared Larabie called his little cousin "a very loving boy," who was great with Mr. Larabie's infant son.
Investigators with the civilian-led Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIOBC) spent Saturday identifying and interviewing potential witnesses, canvassing for video surveillance and collecting physical evidence from the scene. The team had been scheduled to return on Sunday, however a fatal officer-involved shooting in Surrey resulted in the redeployment of all members with the exception of the primary investigator.
The Abbotsford investigation is expected to resume early this week.
To date, witnesses have told investigators that, at the time of the crash, the driver was at a controlled intersection which connects the mall with a bus loop, heading southbound, on a green light.
Kellie Kilpatrick, the IIOBC's executive director of public accountability, said while reconstruction examinations are still under way, speed and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the collision. Witnesses and evidence show Marcus was riding a long-board; it is not yet known whether he was wearing a helmet, Ms. Kilpatrick said.
The Abbotsford police officer, shaken from the incident, will be off in the short term, said spokesman Constable Ian MacDonald.
"For now, the emphasis is being placed on supporting our member and being compassionate to the family and the community as we all work through this tragedy."
The IIOBC has responded to six officer-involved shootings in three months. The office's chief civilian director reviewed one of those shootings and found that the affected person's injury was not serious as defined by the Police Act and released jurisdiction back to the RCMP.