Inquest Calls for Boost in Police Tech, Training After Edey Tragedy


At the age of 39, Waylon Edey lost his life within the cold confines of a hospital room in Trail, British Columbia. The fatal headshot had been performed by Constable Jason Tait, a police officer who was subsequently implicated and later exonerated from charges of manslaughter.

The unfortunate incident had been the climax of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) response to a complaint of an erratic driver on the serpentine Highway 3, conveniently located in Castlegar. BC., on the winter’s night of January 29, 2015.

Tait’s encounter with Edey, deemed an “attempted traffic stop” by the Independent Investigations Office of BC, led to the discharge of his firearm. Following a trial which stretched for eight weeks, Tait was absolved of both the charges of manslaughter with the use of a firearm and criminal negligence causing death with a firearm in November 2020.

The National Police Federation, the collective bargaining organization for RCMP, applauded the acquittal, highlighting Edey’s litany of past offenses of impaired driving and violence. Federation President Brian Sauve felt the verdict had been a long time coming, arguing that such a case ought not to have darkened the doorstep of the court, thereby subjecting Tait, his family, and Edey’s grieving relatives to five years of interminable waiting for a satisfactory resolution.

Sauve faulted the province’s independent police watchdog for entering this case “overwhelmed and under-resourced,” resulting in the overdrawn, and in his view, unnecessary criminal proceedings.

Fast forward to the recent past, a coroner’s inquest into Edey’s death adjourned on Friday. It brought forward several recommendations for consideration by the provincial government, the RCMP, and the city of Castlegar, all stemming from an exhaustive deep-dive into the disheartening circumstances surrounding Edey’s death.

Among the jury’s recommendations were calls for hastening the adoption of police body cameras for front-line officers, along with the use of dashcam equipment in police vehicles. Moreover, urging new provincial and federal laws be put in place to deter suspended drivers from taking control of the wheel.

The jury felt passionately about officers receiving extensive training in managing high-stress situations, and for the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to overhaul its policy relating to the insurance of vehicles possessed by court-prohibited drivers. They also suggested the Minister of Public Safety, alongside the RCMP, examine the viability of sharing information about inebriated patrons between the police, bars, and restaurants.

Finally, the jury implored the provincial public safety minister and police to fast-track the utilization of emerging technologies aimed at de-escalating critical situations, such as vehicle immobilization technologies, and additionally, for the city of Castlegar to consistently evaluate staffing levels to ensure the community is adequately patrolled.


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