After six months, Brooks family still seeks justice in Prince Rupert
Today marks the six-month anniversary of the discovery of 21-year-old Justin Brooks in Prince Rupert's harbour.
With the half-year mark passing, Brooks' family is happy to say they feel they're close to finding answers about the details of Justin's death. But they're upset they've had to push to find a reason why they had to bury the young man.
"It shouldn't have taken this long. They knew who assaulted him and they weren't even put in jail [for the same amount of time someone who is put in the drunk tank is]," Cheryl Ryan, Brooks' mother, said.
While the investigation is ongoing, Prince Rupert RCMP are not releasing any new information on Brooks' passing at this time. Matt Ericson, spokesperson for the Prince Rupert RCMP, has recently said there is no evidence or information to support Brooks' death involving foul play or being suspicious in nature.
But the family of Brooks disagrees. Ryan said RCMP informed her her son was assaulted by a group of people in the Rotary Waterfront Park prior to his mysterious passing. Brooks' family doesn't accept that Justin, who couldn't swim, would go near the water and slipped in, or committed suicide.
Ryan, Brooks' stepfather Pete Wesley, and aunt Sheri Latimer have been raising money as the Justice for Justin campaign to offer a reward for information about Brooks' death. The family lost hope in the Prince Rupert RCMP's investigation after being told RCMP did not suspect foul play.
Ryan filed a public complaint against the Prince Rupert RCMP, and said an investigator is reviewing the case to see if there was any wrong-doing on the RCMP's part.
Prince Rupert RCMP are not commenting on allegations RCMP did not properly investigate the death.
Ryan said RCMP have recently requested to have a meeting with Brooks' family. The BC Civil Liberties Association will be travelling to Prince Rupert to participate in the meeting, as will the investigator and coroner involved in the case.
"We're all going to be in one room, so they're going to have to listen to me," Ryan said.
In the meantime, the Justice for Justin campaign is continuing to fundraise and has surpassed the $6,000 mark. The family of Brooks has been raising money through a number of activities, including the sale of T-shirts and hoodies, and has begun selling Justice for Justin keychains and bracelets.
Since the Justice for Justin campaign offered a $6,000 reward to anyone with vital information on the activities of Brooks the night of his death, Ryan said a number of tips have come in.
"We're thankful to the people who have been brave enough to [contact us]," Ryan said.
If the reward doesn't entice anyone to come forward, the campaign will put the money toward hiring a private investigator.
"We've had to take the long way around, but I'm not going to quit," Ryan said.
"I promised that to my son they day we put him in the ground ... I'm going to find out who did this, and get justice," she said.
Brooks' family also wants to ensure Justin's son Lucas grows up knowing what happened to his father. Brooks' family celebrated his son Lucus' first birthday without him on July 27.