Inquest into B.C. police shooting deaths recommends emergency events be recorded

An inquest jury looking into the police shooting deaths of a man and the woman he was holding hostage has recommended that events involving the emergency response team be recorded with both video and audio.

The recommendation is one of seven that came Thursday following the inquest into the deaths of Randy Crosson and Nona McEwan in March 2019 in Surrey, B.C.

The jury also recommended the Ministry of Public Safety offer extended training to probation officers in mental health disorders and addictions, and create partnerships with health authorities.

When reading their recommendation that events involving emergency response team members be “captured by audio, visual and other means,” the jury foreperson said the suggestion was based on testimony from police and the Independent Investigations Office, who said recordings would be beneficial. 

The jury recommended inquests be done in a timely manner. The foreperson said they heard testimony that the five-year wait following Crosson and McEwan’s deaths was “too long.”

It was recommended that the RCMP ensure the emergency response team have access to explosives without delay and that positions be created for full-time hostage negotiators.

A photo of a woman look straight towards the camera. She has brown hair, bangs and blue eyes.
Nona McEwan was killed by stray bullets fired by police while she was being held hostage by her boyfriend, Randy Crosson, in 2019. (Nona McEwan/Facebook)

The final recommendation was for 911 call-takers to be trained to play back calls related to critical incidents to crisis negotiation teams. 

During the inquest, the jury heard from several officers involved in the more than nine-hour standoff, which ended with police shooting and killing both Crosson and McEwan.

RCMP were called to the home after reports of a loud bang and a scream, and arrived believing that a man inside had a gun.

They spent hours trying to get a response from anyone inside the home, including though loudspeakers.

The jury heard Crosson had a criminal record dating back to 1996, including break-ins, theft, assault, carrying a weapon and numerous convictions for failing to comply with court orders.

In 2003, he was convicted of assaulting McEwan and released on a two-year probation order.

The jury was told Crosson had used drugs, mainly heroin and crystal meth, since his late teens and was diagnosed as bipolar.

The inquest began last week with a statement written by Crosson’s son, who described his father as a caring person who didn’t have the opportunity to “get clean” from his addictions.

McEwan’s son described her as a great mother who always tried to do at least one good deed a day.

Officers testified that in the early morning hours of March 29, 2019, Crosson was heard giving a one-hour deadline before he would kill McEwan, and very soon after shortened that to five minutes. 

An emergency response team of six officers stormed the bedroom where Crosson was holding McEwan.

In the flurry of bullets that killed Crosson, McEwan was struck twice, in the arm and in the abdomen. She died on the way to the hospital.

Officers testified that when they entered the room, Crosson was lying on a bed with McEwan held against him as a human shield. 

He had a knife to her throat and a gun in his other hand, they told the jury.

A report from the province’s Independent Investigations Office cleared officers of any wrongdoing. It said investigators found “a realistic-looking replica pistol” at the scene.

Police on the scene, including hostage negotiators, testified at the inquest that they believed Crosson was potentially volatile and violent after his relationship with McEwan ended and he was told to leave the house.

The jury heard that a mental health expert working with the police believed Crosson wanted to die. 

A friend of McEwan testified that in the days prior to her death, McEwan was happy that Crosson was leaving the house so that she would be free to “discover herself.”

Inquest juries do not place blame but have the option to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths from happening in the future.


Posted in CBC