One procedural gap found during independent review of shooting death of Brydon Whitstone

By Tyler Marr
December 18, 2018 - 1:56pm

The Saskatchewan RCMP have released the results of an independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting death of Brydon Whitstone last fall in North Battleford.

The review, which was completed by the Manitoba RCMP, identified one procedural gap in regard to how the officers were managed immediately after the shooting.

According to a media release, RCMP policy calls for those involved to be "separated immediately after a critical incident," such as this.

The internal review determined Cst. Jerry Abbott’s removal and separation from the scene met the requirements of the policy. However, all the responding officers, while removed from the scene, did have come together for a debrief at the Battlefords RCMP detachment between 11:40 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2017 - the night Whitstone was killed - and 2 a.m. on Oct. 22.

"We do not believe this had any impact on the investigation into the death of Mr. Whitstone," police said in a press release, "as the evidence in its totality led to the conclusion that our officers acted reasonably and appropriately and in accordance with the Canadian Criminal Code."

In response to the finding, the review recommended: "members and supervisors be retold of the importance in keeping involved members separated and reminded that they are not to discuss events in regards to this type of serious incident”.

The Saskatchewan RCMP, according to a press release, followed through on this on Aug. 10, 2018, when a division-wide message was issued to officers.

The RCMP committed to sharing the results of the review after it was announced on Sept. 25 there would be no criminal charges laid against Cst. Abbott as a result of the independent, external investigation into the circumstances surrounding Whitstone's death. 

The review aimed to identify any breaches of policy, reporting requirements or training gaps, examine the circumstances surrounding the complaint, the RCMP's response and the actions of officers, and determine if the responding officers’ conduct was compliant with the RCMP Act and Regulations. 

The results were only just released to the public, as the RCMP first met with Whitstone's family to advise them of the outcome - the results of which were obtained on Aug. 10.

"Policing can be a difficult and demanding profession.  At times, it calls for split-second, life-or-death decisions to be made under great duress," the RCMP said in a press release. "It is a heavy burden of responsibility that our officers carry, but it is a responsibility that we train for and that we take seriously."

The results of the review come just over a week after a jury at a coroner's inquest into the 22-year-old from Onion Lake's death were unable to determine the manner of it. Jurors, however, did recommend the RCMP examine other methods of intervention to immobilize or stun a suspect, such as a Taser gun, to prevent similar deaths from happening in the future. 

Dorothy Laboucane, Whitstone's mother, said the outcome of the inquest won’t bring back her son. 


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