Question of optics crucial in police investigation: Saanich PD Sgt.

  • Mar. 8, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Eight Saanich and Central Saanich police officers are back home after being called to the Lower Mainland last Thursday to investigate an RCMP shooting that left one man dead.

It’s the second time Saanich has been asked by the RCMP to conduct an external investigation since the federal force instituted a policy requiring an outside agency to look at police-involved incidents resulting in serious injury or death. The first was a vehicle crash last year involving a Cowichan RCMP officer.

“This independence is necessary for reasons of optics. But we will conduct our own investigation and it will not be influenced by any other organization,” said Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen.

The incident occurred in Surrey last Wednesday night after a man who police say had an assault rifle in his vehicle sped off after a routine traffic stop. That resulted in a car chase and spike belt being used before shots were fired and he was killed.

Saanich police will determine whether or not the officer involved acted appropriately.

The man shot dead was identified as 28-year-old Adam Brian Purdie, who had an extensive criminal record and testified in 2004 that he wanted police to shoot him.

As the investigative authority, Saanich police has employed the use of RCMP firearms and forensic identification officers  from the mainland, due to those officers’ expertise.

“It’s not an internal investigation, this is the investigation of the incident,” Jantzen said.

Unlike municipal police forces, the RCMP does not fall under the scrutiny of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner in B.C.

– with files from Surrey Leader

kslavin@saanichnews.com