The trial of Jason Tait was not held at the Nelson courthouse because of COVID-19 restrictions but at Nelson’s Capitol Theatre. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

The trial of Jason Tait was not held at the Nelson courthouse because of COVID-19 restrictions but at Nelson’s Capitol Theatre. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Jason Tait trial: Investigating agency defends decision to prosecute

Independent Investigations Office and Crown say there was enough evidence to go to trial

B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has defended its investigation of the death of Waylon Edey at the hands of RCMP officer Jason Tait, who was found not guilty of manslaughter by a jury in Nelson on Nov. 6 after a six-week trial.

During the trial, Tait’s lawyer David Butcher called the IIO investigator “incompetent” and the investigation “rubbish.” He said the case did not have enough merit to be referred to the Crown for prosecution and he criticized the Crown for accepting it and conducting a trial that cost “millions of dollars.”

The IIO is a provincial civilian agency that investigates incidents in which a person is killed or injured by a police officer.

In an interview with the Nelson Star after the trial, Ronald MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the IIO, pointed out that in a preliminary inquiry in January a provincial court judge decided there was enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Preliminary inquiries are a procedure designed specifically to make sure there is enough evidence to warrant the expense and effort of a trial.

MacDonald disputed Butcher’s accusations and said, “This trial was not about the competence of the IIO investigation. It was about whether or not the officer in this case had breached the criminal law.”

He said the fact that a jury found Tait not guilty should not lead to the conclusion that the case should not have gone to trial.

The provincial Crown office also sent the Star a response to Butcher’s criticism.

Dan McLaughlin said the Crown applies a two-way test to decide whether to approve charges: There must be a substantial likelihood of conviction based on the evidence gathered by the investigating agency, and the prosecution must be in the public interest.

“The [BC Prosecution Service] approved charges in this case after concluding that the charge assessment standard for proceeding with criminal charges was met,” McLaughlin wrote.

“The same standard is applied to all reports to Crown Counsel. While the verdict in this case is not the result the BCPS advocated for, we respect the jury system and the judicial process that supports it.”

Related:

Nelson jury finds RCMP officer Jason Tait not guilty

Defence begins presenting evidence in Nelson jury trial of RCMP officer

Trial of RCMP officer begins in Nelson’s Capitol Theatre



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Revelstoke City Hall. (File)
Revelstoke COVID-19 cases spike to 46

Mayor Gary Sulz expects positive cases to increase

Slocan Valley communities struggling with the need for high-speed internet should consider Kaslo’s model, according to the Kaslo infoNet Society. Photo: Black Press
Follow Kaslo’s lead for fibre service, says proponent

Tim Ryan of Kaslo infoNet Society says bringing high-speed internet to rural homes is possible

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read