Al Wright calls for second look into son’s fatal shooting
The file on the shooting death of Alvin Wright at the hands of the Langley RCMP may be re-opened. That’s the hope of Wright’s father Al.
Wright is anxiously awaiting a response from the Office of the Police Complaint Commission to see if it will re-open its review into his son’s death after new information was revealed and recommendations to police made at the coroner’s inquest.
Just prior to the inquest into Wright’s death, the OPCC had cleared the Langley RCMP of any wrongdoing but said it was willing to re-open the case if new information came to light.
“The OPCC invited the Wright family to get back to them after the Inquest, and now they have,” said David Eby, B.C. Civil Liberties Association lawyer for Al Wright. “The OPCC must not close this file until all of the evidence has been reviewed. They must ensure they’re making their decisions based on all of the available information.”
For Wright, the inquest showed there was “a lot of evidence that leads to a lot of negligence on the police’s part.”
He has maintained that the shooting of his son should be a criminal case, where the officer has to be in a court of law.
“If this officer were a civilian, this file would have been sent to Crown counsel for them to assess whether charges should be laid.That’s how it works for everyone else but police,” he said.
The BCCLA and Wright say that the OPCC report is deeply flawed, pointing to, for example, the OPCC’s conclusion that: “The manner in which witnesses were interviewed was fair and professional, utilizing appropriate interviewing style and technique.”
In fact, evidence at the inquest showed that a private conversation between Al Wright and his surviving son Alister, in which Al broke the news of Alvin’s death, was secretly recorded by the Langley RCMP without the family’s consent.
The transcript, from the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 2010, begins with Al, and reads: “(Crying) please don’t let him be gone. Please (unintelligible). (Crying) oh my god.” Section 184 of the Criminal Code prohibits such recordings.
“The RCMP secretly and illegally recorded me and my son on the night of Alvin’s death as we cried together in the police station. The RCMP made our most private moments part of the investigation file,” said Wright.
In contrast, the senior officer, Sgt. Don Davidson, who shot and killed Alvin was not required to make any statement, recorded or written, about what took place that evening.
“He made no notes, wasn’t ordered to make any, and didn’t give a written report for more than three months. The OPCC thinks that’s fair and professional, and that pretty much sums up police accountability in B.C.”
Wright said the whole experience has been a nightmare he continues to live.
He vows to continue to fight for justice.
“I’m not going anywhere. This isn’t just for Alvin, it’s for the next child,” he said.
The Wright family also wants the OPCC to review whether the four Langley Mounties entered the Wright house illegally without a warrant.
The officers failed to announce their presence before entering Alvin’s darkened bedroom, which demonstrates criminal negligence, he said. It was also learned that police failed to preserve the shooting scene, allowing the bullet cartridge and weapons to be moved, resulting in obstruction of justice or criminal breach of trust.
All of this evidence came out in the Coroner’s inquest and some of this information resulted in the jury recommending police announce themselves, make their identity more visible on their uniforms, and communicate a plan of action when attending 911 calls.
The jury also said officers involved in shootings should have to have a statement recorded about their actions immediately after the incident and then again in 72 hours.
The BC RCMP said it will review the recommendations, and will take up to a year to respond to the coroner. RCMP said it will make no effort to make their response public. The coroner can choose to make it public.