By Jennifer Saltman, Postmedia News March 22, 2012
On Wednesday, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner released a report that concluded the actions of the officers who went to the home of Jeffrey James Alvin Wright, 22, on Aug. 7, 2010, were “reasonable and necessary.”
Alan Wright disagrees.
“I think the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner should be called the Office of Police Protection instead,” Wright said in a statement.
“Nothing about this makes any sense until you realize, as I do now, that the job of the Police Complaint Commissioner is to protect the police.”
The evening of Aug. 6, 2010, began as an outing with friends and ended in tragedy.
According to the report, that evening Wright and his common-law spouse, Heather Hannon, went to the Legacy Showroom in Cloverdale, B.C., with a group of people.
As they left the club between 10:30 and 11 p.m., Wright and Hannon had a heated argument, which continued after they arrived home. Wright demanded that Hannon leave, while Hannon threatened to call police. She called 911 and four officers were dispatched.
Hannon told the officers that she was intoxicated and said Wright was “completely drunk” and sleeping upstairs. Three officers went to check on Wright and see if the couple could safely stay at the home together that night.
When Sgt. Donald Davidson and Const. Patti Ramsay entered Wright’s bedroom they found him crouched in the closet with a large hunting knife in his right hand and a hatchet in his left.
Davidson drew his gun and tried to talk to Wright, asking him repeatedly to drop the weapons. Wright reportedly asked police to shoot him.
At one point Wright stood up. He had let go of the hatchet but still held on to the knife. He stepped toward Davidson and raised the knife. Davidson fired one shot.
Wright was taken to hospital and pronounced dead shortly after 1 a.m.
The entire interaction lasted less than two minutes, the report says.
“During this confrontation all of the officers exercised significant restraint in dealing with Mr. Wright. Mr. Wright’s actions were likely fuelled by his emotional state and his level of intoxication, resulting in the exercise of extremely poor judgment on his behalf,” Commissioner Stan Lowe wrote, noting that the incident was unexpected and out of character for Wright.
Lowe found that the Vancouver police investigation into the incident was properly conducted and decided against forwarding the file to Crown prosecutors for charge assessment.
Alan Wright countered that the situation was “calm and controlled” when police arrived. He questioned how his son exercised poor judgment by going to sleep in his own bedroom.
“There were no crimes to investigate. The police had no reason to believe anyone was in danger,” he said.
Alan called B.C. “a national embarrassment for police accountability” and said the police operate with impunity.
“I wish I could say that I was surprised that they found that the police did nothing wrong. I am not surprised,” he said.
A coroner’s inquest into Wright’s death is scheduled to begin Monday and last five days. Alan said he hopes the truth will come out during the inquest.
“Some outrageous allegations have been made about my son,” he said.
“My son was working and was training to join me on the docks, working as a longshoreman. He was ringing all the right bells. He had no criminal record. He lived with his common-law wife and his beautiful daughter, my granddaughter.”