Police officers cannot refuse to be interviewed during investigations of possible officer-involved serious injury or death, the B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled.
In an unanimous decision on Monday, the top court ruled the duty of a police officer to cooperate with the Independent Investigations Office is “mandatory, not qualified.” The IIO investigates all police-related injuries in B.C. where someone suffers serious harm or death.
The appeal stems from an incident in Vancouver on Nov. 10, 2016, when police shot and killed a man at the scene of a robbery.
The Vancouver Police Department asked the IIO for a pre-interview disclosure, which the watchdog denied.
The officers declined to be interviewed, prompting the IIO to successfully ask the B.C. Supreme Court to force the officers to do so. No charges came as a result of the watchdog’s investigation.
In his decision, Justice David Harris wrote that police have a “duty to cooperate fully” with the IIO.
“Nothing in the wording of the statute supports the inference that police officers can withhold their cooperation with the investigation, if they disagree with the terms on which it is being conducted,” he noted.