A lawsuit has been filed against six RCMP officers, over the shooting death of Alvin Wright in his Langley City home almost exacly one year ago, on Aug. 6, 2010.
While his family have every right to file such a suit, and it will undoubtedly be dealt with in the courts in due course (which is almost certainly many years away), there is a more fundamental question of justice that remains unanswered.
That question is posed to the Vancouver Police, who are investigating the shooting death. It is a simple one — why has it taken almost a year to investigate this matter, and why has there been no interim report to the family and the community, while the investigation continues?
Lawyer Don Sorochan made the point at his news conference on Tuesday that the news media (and he singled out The Times) have been able to find out more than Wright’s family have. This is an ironic and fascinating point, because The Times has found out almost nothing in the past year.
The little bit of information this newspaper has found out, and immediately shared with our readers, has come solely as a result of reporters pestering the police. They have made no publc statements and issued no press releases.
Police have many things to do. The Vancouver Police now have, for example, to get to the bottom of the Stanley Cup riots.
However, the death of a young man at the hands of police must be one of their highest priorities. When they are asked to do an investigation caused by police, it must be done promptly and in as public a manner as possible. In other words, the public and, first and foremost, the family need to be kept informed.
Such an investigation must be done in a timely fashion as well. There seems very little good reason why it would take more than a year to establish the basic facts of the case, and to interview all the relevant witnesses.
Many people have very little confidence in the police. There are many reasons for this, but surely one of them is the cone of silence that seems to descend when someone dies at the hands of police.
The family of Alvin Wright and the community of Langley need to know what Vancouver Police have found out about this case. The sooner, the better.
If police want to regain public confidence, they must be openly accountable for their actions, in a timely manner.