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The Campbell River RCMP may have gunned down an innocent man when they killed Jared Lowndes on July 8, 2021.

A really old warrant, from a case already resolved

The Independent Investigation Office informed Cortes Currents they could not discuss the warrant RCMP were attempting to enforce, when they killed Lowndes.

The National Police Federation said they were pursuing him for an outstanding warrant for weapons offences.

“The warrant was really old, an outstanding warrant for his DNA, and he was standing on sovereignty, saying they had no right to it,” explained Fay Blaney, the greataunt of Lowndes daughters Phoenix and Patience.

She is also a close friend of Lowndes mother, Laura Hamilton, and has agreed to be the family spokesperson

Blaney added that the case requiring Lowndes DNA had been dismissed. It arose out of a domestic dispute with his common-law wife. She planted a gun in his possessions and called the police. There was no need for his DNA after Lowndes’ common-law wife confessed. He was acquitted.

So why did he run?

“He’s Indigenous. He was by himself and knew what they would do. I mean, they did what he thought they would do,” said Blaney.

Lowndes grew up in East Vancouver where, Blaney explained, there is considerable friction between police and the Indigenous community.

“The police officers used to chase them on weekends: beat them, sick dogs on them, maim young Indigenous men and they actually shot one,” she said.

Blaney mentioned two occasions in which police dogs had mauled people and the shooting of Frank Bell, a Kwak^Wala youth from Alert Bay.

According to the Vancouver Sun, “On March 3, 1992, Frank Bell was fatally shot by Vancouver police after he allegedly confronted two officers by pointing a Sony Walkman at them – which they mistook for a gun.”

The shooting of Jared Lowndes

Lowndes fled when the RCMP tried to stop him for the outstanding warrant and decided to resolve the situation over the phone. As there were no minutes left on his cell phone, he was attempting to borrow the phone belonging to a friend working at Tim Hortons.

“That’s where [the RCMP] caught up with him. They rammed his vehicle on three sides: front, back and passenger – t-boned him. The vehicle was a write-off. It was so seriously damaged that when the Independent Investigation Office needed to get in, they had to pry the trunk and passenger doors open with a crow bar,” said Blaney.

She knows this because the Independent Investigation Office asked Lowndes’ mother for permission to search the vehicle.

(Hamilton consented, providing there was a family member present.)

Blaney said the RCMP sent police dog Gator in. It attacked both Lowndes and his 4-month old puppy. Lowndes had a knife in his camping gear and used it to defend himself, killing Gator.

The police dog’s handler was cut during the struggle, which ended in gunfire.

“There were witnesses. They said it happened really fast. They heard three shots fired and [the RCMP] shot [Lowndes] in the head. I understand from others, well Laura, that there were more than three shots fired. From what I saw, when I was standing by the police tape, they shot him in the face. He is having a closed casket funeral. We aren’t able to see, because they shot him in the face,” she said.

Lowndes’ mother believes he was shot six times.

Blaney was among the friends and family that attempted to hold a ceremony in Tim Horton’s parking lot on the day that Lowndes was shot. That is how she knows that his body was in the car for almost three hours before it was removed at almost 10 PM.

Lowndes friends and family returned to hold their ceremony the following day.

She said the RCMP brought Lowndes’ pup to his family there.

“The puppy was whimpering. It knew it was right around that area where his owner had passed. The puppy is with his daughters now,” said Blaney.

Taking us backward

“[The RCMP] are taking us backwards, in terms of reconciliation. We were the ones that were taken away to residential schools. We were taken by the police. We have all these unmarked graves that are being unearthed. It is reminding us of the role of police in our lives. Now these RCMP officers in Campbell River are transmitting that very legacy to Jared’s daughters, Phoenix and Patience. They are conveying to them what the role of the police officers are in the lives of Indigenous peoples. [The RCMP] are the ones that kill us. They take us away. They are not our friends,” said Blaney.

She mentioned the 2020 shooting of Chantel Moore, a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation who had moved to New Brunswick, adding there have been others.

Police have killed four member’s of Vancouver Island’s Indigenous population in a little more than a year.

Blaney believes the parade held to honour the dead police dog Gator, incited Campbell River’s racists. There were Fire Department vehicles, as well as RCMP. The line of ‘white people’ that came out  to watch stretched all the way from the police station to the top of Dogwood Hill, which Blaney guesses is 3-4 kilometres.

She added that RCMP attempts to blame Lowndes for what happened are premature, given that the Independent Investigation Office has not concluded its investigation.

In one of the police press releases, the president of the National Police Federation, said, “If Mr. Lowndes had not, however, evaded police, stabbed PSD [police service dog] Gator and injured an RCMP officer, and instead turned himself in to the courts to comply with a warrant for weapons offences, he could be alive today.”

The day after his death, around 20 of Lowndes’ friends and family put up a street-side shrine to honour him. When they returned the following day, the shrine had been torn down and one for Gator put up in its place. They restored the shrine for Lowndes. This has been an ongoing occurrence, day after day.

“The police can win a PR campaign because they are well resourced and we are not, but we are not going to sit by and let them get away with murdering yet another Indigenous person,” said Blaney. “This polarization that we’re experiencing, I hold the police responsible for that.”

Links of Interest:

Photo credits: (top) Jared Lowndes with his daughters and an unidentified woman (podcast) the street-side shrine to Jared Lowndes – both photoes courtesy family of Jared Lowndes

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative