Coquitlam RCMP officers cleared in death of man who fell from 11-storey balcony

·2 min read
The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.'s police watchdog agency, has cleared police of wrongdoing in the 2021 death of a man who fell from an 11-storey balcony in the city of Coquitlam. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)
The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.'s police watchdog agency, has cleared police of wrongdoing in the 2021 death of a man who fell from an 11-storey balcony in the city of Coquitlam. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)

The provincial agency that investigates police-involved deaths and injuries says none of three responding officers is to blame for the death of a man who fell from an 11-storey balcony in Coquitlam, B.C., despite the claims of an anonymous tipster.

In a statement from the Independent Investigations Office of BC, Chief Civilian Director Ronald MacDonald said independently gathered evidence "strongly supports" the conclusion the man either deliberately jumped or slipped while trying to climb down.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 1 last year, a 911 dispatcher answered a call from a distraught woman inside a highrise residential building in the 1100-block of Heffley Crescent, who said her partner had been drinking, had been abusing her and was now threatening her with a knife.

In the 911 recording, the woman is heard telling the dispatcher as police entered the apartment, "he's going to go on the balcony, he's going to jump off the balcony ... the police are here." Then she's heard asking officers if he jumped.

'Blood everywhere'

That morning, before police arrived, the woman told 911 her partner had been angry and had punched some glass. She had told the dispatcher there was "blood everywhere" coming from his cut hand.

During the course of the investigation, the IIOBC said investigators found no blood on any of the officers, which points to evidence there had been no close contact with the man.

In fact, the statement said one of the responding officers told his superior that he had not approached the man but had stayed back, hoping to de-escalate the situation.

He said when he couldn't see the man outside, he assumed he had gone to the balcony below.

A short time later, the man's body was found on a parking lot rooftop, where he was pronounced dead.

Anonymous tipster

At the time of the incident, Coquitlam RCMP had appealed for witnesses, which the IIOBC said resulted in a number of tips.

One of those came from an anonymous tipster who claimed to have seen the "whole thing" while they were out walking. They accused the RCMP of lying and committing murder by pushing the man off the balcony.

But the tipster failed to respond to investigators' emails and then disappeared entirely. And because the incident took place during the night under poorly lit circumstances, investigators determined the supposed witness could not have seen any details from the ground below.

As a result of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, MacDonald said, investigators will not be recommending any charges against the RCMP officers.

No further information is being released.

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