Stay of proceedings entered against Surrey RCMP officer in fatal shooting of Hudson Brooks

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      In a rare move, the B.C. Prosecution Service has chosen not to proceed with a trial after a preliminary inquiry involving a police-involved death.

      A stay of proceedings has been entered on charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon against Surrey Mountie Elizabeth Cucheran.

      It's in connection with the early-morning shooting death of 20-year-old Hudson Brooks in South Surrey on July 18, 2015.

      It occurred in the parkade of the RCMP's District 5 detachment on 152nd Street.

      Cucheran entered the parkade with an "Officer B" and fired her pistol 12 times, hitting Brooks nine times.

      This came after he attacked an SUV as an officer was inside the vehicle.

      "Based on a careful review of new material received and consideration of an additional expert report, the BCPS has determined that the available evidence no longer satisfies the charge assessment standard for continued prosecution of Cst. Cucheran for any criminal offence," the BCPS said in a statement.

      That's because the review concluded that Brooks was likely suffering from "excited delirium", justifying the officer's use of her pistol.

      Excited delirium was not raised as a possible justification in the initial probe by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

      The decision has been greeted with outrage on the Justice For Hudson Facebook page.

      "Crown counsel makes me sick!!!!" Brooks's mother Jennifer wrote. "They dropped the charges!!!! After she shot nine times!!" 

      She's already received dozens of messages of support from others who've expressed their heartbreak over the decision.

      Family and friends of Hudson Brooks have demanded to know why he was killed even though he was unarmed.
      Justice for Hudson

      The preliminary inquiry heard from six civilian witnesses and seven police officers, including two who were at the scene.

      Three expert witnesses also testified, including a specialist in the police use of force.

      Following the preliminary inquiry, Cucheran was committed to stand trial.

      "While Cst. Cucheran may have had a subjective belief that lethal force was necessary, on the available evidence this belief was not objectively reasonable," the BCPS stated. "Based on the evidence as it stood at the time of charge assessment, it appeared that she would have had time to deploy her Taser instead of shooting Mr. Brooks.

      "As the events unfolded and Mr. Brooks came into physical contact with her, eventually ending up on top of her, the officer's reasonable alternative options for defending herself disappeared," the statement continues. "She was put in the position of justifiably resorting to her firearm to defend herself. Although the initial shots were not legally justifiable, that could not be established for the subsequent shots.

      "The pathology evidence indicates Mr. Brooks' death was caused by a close range shot to his chest, fired when Cst. Cucheran had no reasonable alternative for defending herself. For that reason homicide charges were not approved."

      However, evidence brought forward at the preliminary inquiry "differed significantly on key points from evidence provided in statements, reports and opinions", the BCPS stated.

      In particular, the Crown's use-of-force expert's opinion was challenged, undermining the Crown's case.

      "The expert conceded that Mr. Brooks was likely suffering from 'excited delirium' and that this had significant implications for the use of force options that were available to Cst. Cucheran, specifically with respect to the potential for a successful Taser deployment," the BCPS stated. "In the initial opinion, there had been no indication of the possibility of excited delirium or the fact that this would significantly reduce the likely effectiveness of the Taser."

      The expert went on to agree that Cucheran's reliance on a firearm under the circumstances was not contrary to RCMP policy and that she could reasonably believe that another officer had been killed or injured by Brooks.

      Excited delirium, also known as cocaine psychosis, is "a state of extreme mental and physiological excitement, characterized by extreme agitation, hyperthermia, hostility, exceptional strength and endurance without apparent fatigue", according to the BCPS.

      Brooks had "significant quantities of cocaine and alcohol in his system, had (based on eyewitness accounts) possibly also used psilocybin that evening, had attacked several car side mirrors and had wandered several kilometers across town and through traffic, at times in the middle of a four lane road seemingly oblivious to traffic".

      When he entered the RCMP parkade, an "Officer A" got into police vehicle to investigate. According to the BCPS, Brooks was screaming "Kill you! Kill me! Kill you!" as he tried to smash his way into the SUV.

      A taxi driver who was in the parkade testified that Brooks was the most violent person he had ever seen.