De Groot shot and killed by police 4 days after he allegedly fired at officers in Slocan, B.C
The sister of Peter de Groot, the man shot and killed by police in Slocan, B.C., said today that her brother had been “executed” and that the family was considering filing a civil suit.
Danna de Groot was speaking at a news conference in Vancouver, surrounded by members of her family and their lawyer, Cameron Ward.
In an emotional and lengthy statement, she detailed her many efforts to persuade the police to accept her help in finding her brother, the frustration she felt at misinformation being spread about him and the apparent lack of interest shown in bringing about a peaceful conclusion.
‘Ashamed to be Canadian’
“We are outraged,” she said. “For the first time ever, we are ashamed to be Canadian.”
The de Groot family, she said, is “an average Canadian family. If this can happen to us, this can happen to you.”
She described her “bright, intelligent” brother as a man who had gradually rebuilt his life after a workplace accident in 1994 and then, three years later, a massive brain aneurysm. He also had suffered six post-surgery grand mal seizures, in which he broke several bones, she said.
He hated taking painkillers because they clouded his thinking and, through diet, managed to reduce his seizures and wean himself from the medication. His peripheral vision and his senses remained compromised by the aneurysm.
She said her brother “worked harder than anyone can imagine” in order to be able to live independently. He did not, she said, have PTSD, schizophrenia, take drugs or drink alcohol. He was one of seven siblings.
Life outside on a small holding suited him, she said. He liked living somewhere that had no cellphone reception.
‘It was easy to judge him’
The family had heard about him experiencing some problems with his neighbours, something, de Groot said, a lot of people have. But he looked different, and acted differently.
“His body was ravaged over time; it was easy to judge him.”
They were told he was alleged to have shoved someone on Oct. 7.
That same morning, Danna de Groot said, a worker with the SPCA arrived at 9.15 a.m. PT with feed for her brother’s animals, having heard he might have financial problems and be running short.
“Peter refused because he had enough,” she said. The SPCA worker agreed, and “left without incident.” The worker later described Peter de Groot as calm and his usual self.
What happened next, she said, was a gross over-reaction on the part of the police.
She said three RCMP officers, in three separate vehicles, were sent in response to the alleged shove. The officers drove onto the property and created a blockade. They stayed behind their cars and got out their guns.
Peter’s worry, she said — which, owing to his medical issues could present more emphatically than is usual — may have been perceived as paranoia.
“Which, it turns out, was warranted.”
The police, de Groot alleges, opened fire on her brother, knowing he had a small collection of guns.
“He ran away, and we consider any shots he may have fired to have been in self-defence.”
What happened next, according to de Groot, was extreme and unwarranted, and could have been avoided had the family been listened to and allowed to help.
After being alerted to the situation by her sister in Amsterdam, de Groot said, her first reaction was to call the lead RCMP negotiator and ask if she should go to Slocan. She was told no. She asked what the plan was and was told, “to bring the incident to conclusion.”
“I said that I thought the manhunt was excessive, that Peter would feel as though he was being ganged up on, and that I could talk to him.”
‘Why were we ignored?’
She called a law firm in the Slocan area and was told to start driving. Ten hours later she was in Castlegar, and was interviewed by police for two and a half hours, until around 3.30 a.m.
She told them Peter wasn’t a violent person and repeatedly offered to walk into the bush to get him. She asked for a statement to be released to the media, police and community to correct the misinformation she felt was being circulated about her brother, an exchange that was repeated several times over the coming days.
“Why were we ignored and our efforts resisted?”
On the day Peter was shot and killed, de Groot said, she was told the manhunt was being downgraded to low priority. She left the police station feeling that things were finally calming down.
Driving through town, she ran into SUVs containing police dressed in “combat gear,” she said.
“They had no interest in me helping. I said, ‘I hope I find him before you do.’
“In retrospect, I wish I had begged them not to kill him.”
Not long after, her brother was dead, shot and killed by police while lying down with a gun pointed toward the door of the cabin, she said.
“Four days in the bush without food or water. He had not committed any serious crime. He was weak and could have been sleeping on his front with his gun. The ERT ‘interaction’ was that they open fired and killed my brother.
“He was executed.”
The family plans to start a fund or foundation in Peter de Groot’s name between now and the inquest, the conclusions of which may prompt them to file a civil suit, she said, and ended her statement with the words of Henry David Thoreau: “All good things are wild and free.”
DANA DE GROOT’S Full Statement
My name is Danna de Groot and I am Peter de Groot’s sister. Sadly, I am here today to
relay, on behalf of my immediate family and our extended family and friends, correct
information about Peter de Groot as well as our account of events from last Thursday,
October 9 when he escaped police gunfire and disappeared into the bush that bordered
his home to Thanksgiving Monday, October 13 when he was shot dead after evading
police for numerous days. My younger brother and I were in Slocan meeting with the
RCMP before they killed Peter.
What I am about to say is highly personal and extremely emotional for me. We are only
here due to the ridiculous level of character defamation put on my brother that in part
caused his death.
My brother was born the first of seven children to Peter de Groot and Wilhelmina de
Groot (deceased). He was bright and inquisitive – he read voraciously and enjoyed being
outside. We grew up in an area that was bordered by bush in Central Ontario. Peter
spent a great deal of time there, canoeing, running a trap-line, assisting local farmers,
riding dirt-bikes, playing hockey. He wrote from the time he was a child.
Peter excelled academically and was continuously at the top of his class, winning
numerous spelling bees and speech contests and joining clubs such as mock parliament
and the debate team. He was extremely interested in both history and politics and after
graduating as an Ontario Scholar, he was awarded a scholarship to journalism school in
Ottawa at Carleton University. Peter transferred from journalism to the political science
department after one year and completed his undergraduate degree in political science
with a minor in history. He then attended the University of Western Ontario, where he
completed a Master’s degree in political theory. He was accepted to a Phd program at
Purdue University in International Relations with a goal of working for the United
Nations. He traveled extensively and he was simply the most knowledgeable and
intelligent person that I have ever known.
Peter did not serve in the Canadian Army. He had never been to Afghanistan. He did not
have PTSD. He did not have a criminal record. He had never been arrested. He did not
drink or smoke. He never did street drugs of any kind. He was not schizophrenic. He was
never on antidepressant drugs.
He looked out for us. He loved animals. eter worked in construction with our father in the summers in order to pay for his
A few weeks before moving to begin his Phd, he collapsed unconscious on a job site. My
father carried him out and brought him to the hospital. After he was checked he was
sent home and began what became a period of physical deterioration that lasted
approximately three years.
We moved him to Victoria, BC because we lived in a snow-belt and were concerned that
if he fell on the ice and broke his hip he might die. I flew from Toronto numerous times
renting him an apartment, buying furniture, setting it up and helping him settle. He
began to do coursework at the University of Victoria.
I decided to move to Vancouver when the opportunity presented itself, in part to be
closer to Peter because as much as he worked to regain his robust strength, he did not.
I drove across the country in July 1997 with my father. The evening we arrived in
Vancouver I put my Dad on a plane back to Toronto. The following early morning I
received a screaming phone call from my mother. My brother had been talking to her on
the phone, began slurring his words and then the phone had gone dead. I left for
When I arrived, Peter had been taken to hospital – rather than drop the phone, he’d
unlocked his door, hung up, dialed 911, and then collapsed.
I was told he remembered nothing. He knew me and he knew my voice. It was
determined that he had likely had a first aneurysm when he originally collapsed.
He was given a 50/50 chance at surviving surgery. He chose to take his chances, saying
he wanted the maximum quality of life available to him and that if he did not have the
surgery the next aneurysm would likely kill him.
Three days post surgery he had his first grand mal seizure. In total he had six, a few of
which I was present for and which were terrifying to watch. I called him out of the
seizure on two occasions. During the other four, he broke numerous bones, including his
back and collarbone. He lost an inch of his height. He lived with me and I attended to
him for three and a half years. Seizure, break, recovery. Seizure, break, recovery. He
suffered. He had great pain. He took anti-seizure medication, which deteriorates your
bones and teeth rapidly and sometimes he took painkillers, but not always, because he
did not like them to cloud his thinking.e was very sad and angry about what had happened, but in all of the time I spent with
him, from childhood, through university and through the absolute hell of his medical
condition there was not one time where he was violent.
Our sister found a study out of John Hopkins University showing a reduction of seizures
in epileptic patients who consumed a high fat diet. Peter began a similar protocol and
gradually his seizures reduced and finally stopped for a long enough period that he was
able to wean off of the anti-seizure medication.
The area of his brain where he had the aneurysm was in the region controlling
peripheral vision and his senses and that was compromised. I helped him re-learn to
drive. He worked very hard to gain back coordination skills, but his brain did now
But he wanted to live. He worked harder than one can imagine to regain his strength
and faculties so that he could live freely and independently. He was adamant about not
being perceived disabled.
He asserted his independence and moved away, but he still needed to be supplied with
money because his ability to earn a living was compromised. He no longer had seizures
and he went back to his childhood roots, reading and writing, trapping and farming,
considering it an added bonus that the milk and butter that he produced was what kept
his seizures at bay. He wrote a few books and some lovely poetry and worked to play
music. He still read all of the time, languages of the world, do-it-yourself guides,
Life outside suited him because he was able to be free, be outside, and have fresh air.
He liked not having cell phone service. He was careful because he was fragile. He
worked all day typically on his survival, wanting only to be left alone with his animals.
Peter had arranged to receive money from our dad in October. When we didn’t hear
from him, my sister emailed his extremely kind representative at the Brian Injury Clinic,
who contacted the RCMP. The RCMP said they had ‘laid eyes on him in August’. That is
how he may have been known to police, but it is a small town.
My brother wanted to live freely and my parents didn’t judge him – after all he’d been
through they wanted him to feel proud and independent and to be happy and live well.
He had always been extremely skilled in the wild and he did not forget those skills. He
lived in a number of different towns since the time he stopped living with me. He did
have some problems with neighbours – sometimes people have problems with their
neighbours. His body had been so ravaged over time that it was very easy to judge him s a person he was not. He was still sharp and cutting and willing to argue. He had been
weakened and so stood up for himself more harshly than before the aneurysm.
Course of Events October 9-13, 2014
It is alleged my brother shoved someone on October 7.
I also understand another complaint was made to the SPCA against him that morning. At
9:15am, the SPCA fellow personally bought feed and brought it to Peter because he
knew and liked him and he thought perhaps he was having money troubles. He tried to
give the feed to Peter but Peter did refuse it because he already had a sufficient
amount, and the SPCA agreed The SPCA fellow was satisfied and left without issue. He
said Peter was pushing a wheelbarrow, working when he arrived. That his manner was
calm – he was his usual self, that they had the conversation, everything looked good and
off he went. The animals were not and are not malnourished. It has been noted by
several people that Peter was utterly devoted to his animal’s welfare.
I understand that three RCMP officers were dispatched a few hours later to arrest my
brother for allegedly shoving this person and that they did not approach him in a
reasonable manner to ask him about what happened. I understand the RCMP did not
leave the road in front of his property – that they drove up with three vehicles, creating
a blockade and got out of their cars. That they stayed behind them and got out their
My brother did have a collection of guns. We were taught how to shoot a gun together
by our dad and Peter was always very safe. He had a small farm that included two cows,
two bulls, a boar, three pigs and approximately thirty-nine chickens – one runt chicken
that he was sleeping beside, protecting. The property where these animals were kept
bordered a bush, where wild animals lived. It is common in the area to protect
domesticated animals from wild ones. His guns as I understand were registered and he
knew and obeyed the law with regard to them. He was worried that the RCMP may try
to take his collection. He was ‘homesteading’ outside and he was also worried about
protecting himself, which others may have been perceived as paranoia. It appears,
however, in retrospect that any paranoia was fully and completely warranted.
On Friday morning, I went to work and as I was about to start a meeting I received a call
from my sister in Amsterdam, who said we had to find him, the police were ‘hunting’
our brother. She had been contacted by the woman (from the Brain Injury Clinic) after
the woman was called by the New Denver RCMP that this was happening.
I called the RCMP negotiator to find out what was going on and I asked if I should come o Slocan to look for my brother. He said no, not to come. I said why not? What if you
find him, what are you going to do? He said the incident would be brought to a
conclusion. I said, if something is wrong with him, I can talk to him and he will know my
voice; when told about the incident, I said he wasn’t violent and that if all he had done
was shove someone it seemed like a manhunt might be excessive. He told me they had
the situation handled and that if they needed me they would get me. I said how? Do you
fly people there in your police helicopter? When will you let me know? Shouldn’t I come
now so that if any sort of stand-off situation happens I will be there to talk him down?
He would be scared and in fear of his life and it would seem he was ganged up on. He
would need someone on his side in order to stay calm. I repeated he was not violent
and that I could come and go into the bush and get him. He told me he’d let me know if I
I hung up the phone and took calls from others who’d seen the news. I called a law firm
in town my company had worked with and asked to speak to a criminal attorney, who
very generously took my call and helped me through the weekend. He suggested I start
driving despite the RCMP asking me not to come. I made some quick arrangements and
left town, driving ten hours straight to arrive in Castlegar at 1am. I called the RCMP
enroute that I was coming anyway and I received a few calls over the course of the
drive, including one asking to interview me when I arrived rather than go where they
were searching. I did as they asked and was interviewed about my brother for 2.5 hours,
until 3:30 am, explaining he wasn’t a violent person – the media was not telling the truth
of who he was, etc. I was trying to correct the misinformation, but it seemed that
hysteria about him being a violent misfit ensued.
At the end of the interview they asked for my dad’s phone number and I said I’d rather
not give it to them until I spoke with him first. They said sure, but the next morning by
the time I woke up at 7:30am they had already called my dad.
I went to the RCMP at their ‘command central’ where I met the lead investigator and
spoke at length with him. In both interviews I re-iterated my request to bring me to
wherever they were, so that if anything happened I could talk to my brother. I offered
both times to ‘walk into the bush to get him’. I asked about releasing a statement to the
media in order to correct the enormous amount of misinformation that was being
published and damaging the perception of my brother to the public but more
importantly to the police who were ‘hunting’ him. I was asked to issue a radio
announcement asking Peter to turn himself in – I said that we would be happy to but in
a way that would get through to Peter and that would not make him feel alone and
ganged up on, as though his family had aligned with the police against him.hey would not tell me where my brother’s place was exactly. I left and drove the
streets of Slocan until I came across it and was turned away by the young RCMP
constable parked up the road. I identified myself and he radio’d after I turned the car
around. I later sent the media statement to the lead investigator, who confirmed that he
had passed it on to their media liason. This statement was never released.
The next morning I picked up my little brother Miles who flew in from Toronto. Miles
and I drove from Castlegar to Slocan. We went to the command central where I
introduced him. We were told by the lead investigator that the search had been
downgraded to low priority and that they would be pulling out of the area and things
would go back to almost normal, just a slightly elevated presence. We were told this
should be done by late afternoon but to be safe that we should wait until the next
morning to go on the property or to go into the bush. We were also asked again to
record the radio spot that Peter could potentially hear if he had found a cabin equipped
with a radio. I said we would draft it that evening and record tomorrow. We left feeling
as though things were calming and that Peter was a step closer to being safe. I drove
Miles through the town so that he could see Peter’s place as well as the road that I’d
driven up and encountered the ERT, in three black suv’s, burning around the bend,
dressed for combat with an air of adrenaline. I was questioned – who was I, why was I
there, was I there to meet him? Did I know where he was? Was I picking him up? They
had no interest in using me to help resolve the situation. I said I hope I find him before
you do. In retrospect, I wish I’d begged them not to kill my brother.
We drove back to Nelson in order to have cell service. The following morning, I called
the lead investigator and let him know we intended to drive back to Slocan and search
Peter’s property and the bush behind it. He asked us to drive to Castlegar prior to going
to Slocan. It was supposed to rain the next day and so if we were going to find any tracks
we needed to do the outside job first and so I said we would look and then record in the
later afternoon. He asked us to check in at the command central when we arrived so
they knew where we were. We acquired a few things from a friend in Nelson: flagging
tape, garbage bags. We went directly to the command central to check in.
When we arrived the building was deserted and locked. There was a sign on the door
saying the return time was 9, presumably for the holiday. I knocked. At the same time
that we were at the building the ctv news van drove up and a woman and man got out –
the woman had a notepad pad at the ready. They asked us if we were family or if we
knew what was going on now. I said we were here to meet someone for lunch and told
my brother to get in the car. We went to the Peter’s property.
The RCMP had left much of his stuff in a giant pile on the lawn – things that were not reviously outside – his hockey equipment, clothes, shoes, books. Knowing it was going
to rain we began to move things inside so they wouldn’t be wrecked. I left Miles there to
go to the café to text family with an update then I was going to go buy garbage bags. I
was gone for about ten minutes when I heard my name softly ‘Danna, Danna’. I looked
up and over my shoulder to one of the constables who said ‘Miles, Miles’ and I thought
OMG did they do it to him too? I saw Miles through the window dancing and collapsing
like a giant puppet; crying and wailing – totally freaking out. I went outside and said
Miles, Miles look at me what’s wrong? And he stopped and said they killed him, they
killed him! And I looked back at the officer and said whaat? Why didn’t you get us? We
were right here? She said yes they killed him, that they had received a tip, that ERT
officers had gone to the cabin where he’d been spotted, that three officers had ‘opened
the door to the cabin’ and that Peter was ‘on his front with his gun pointed at them’ and
that they’d killed him. I said omg Miles was wailing that global news had been chasing
him. The officer told me that at the moment she told Miles global news was there and
as he collapsed they were hauling their camera up to exploit his grief. He ran by the pigs
to get away from global and jumped in the officers’ suv when she told him to do so.
They then had to lose global before they came to tell me.
I said, I needed to tell my dad before the media published it; that he and our family had
the right to know first. I asked to use their phone. Miles said he didn’t want to go use
the phone of the people who had just murdered our brother and he didn’t want global
news to catch him. I said I would go call. I hid my brother and car behind the restaurant
and got in the officers suv and she took me to call. When we got there I asked to use the
washroom, which I knew was on that side of the building. The place was swarming with
officers including the lead investigator. We were told I couldn’t use the washroom. I said
I would hold it and started walking to the other side of the building. She called to me
saying I couldn’t use the phone there either. I said ‘you mean to tell me that you just
killed my brother and I can’t use the only available landline in town to call my family and
let him know that he is dead? I have to drive 45 minutes to Nelson in order to have
some privacy and inform them before the media does? I said ‘This is bullshit.’ She said
‘wait’ and I said could she guarantee that the media was not going to be informed prior
to my making the drive to Nelson. She said the Independent Investigative Office wasn’t
supposed to move into the site until midnight and that they would do the media
release, so there was time. I left with Miles for Nelson where we tried to call until we
got service. And then we told each of my sisters, who just started crying or screaming. I
told one who sounded hysterical she had to leave work and to get her boyfriend to
come and get her. My father also lives in the bush and has spotty reception. We couldn’t
get ahold of him. We called my sister in Toronto back and I ordered her to get in her car
and drive the two hours to our dad’s to try to tell him before they released it on the ews and someone else came over. My sister and family drove to my dad’s, where they
woke him up by honking their horn. He started screaming ‘they killed my sweet boy’.
We arrived in Nelson and it was already on the news. Our family was not the first to
know. I called the officer back and said what did you do? You said it wouldn’t be
released until midnight? Where do I go get his body, do I collect it from CTV?
We had watched in horror as the situation spiraled into a fully militarized manhunt that
seemed to preclude any reasonable and simple resolution.
We were told that in the original incident Peter shoved someone. Had he been shoved?
The RCMP dispatched three officers to Peter’s to arrest him for assault because of the
shove. They drove up in three vehicles and created a blockade in front of his property.
They got out of their vehicles and got behind their cars and got their guns out. Why
didn’t they just walk up to him like the official from the SPCA a couple hours earlier?
It is our understanding that the police arrived at the property and opened fire on my
brother and that he ran away. We consider any shots he may have fired to have been in
We were told that Peter was starving. Peter had been extremely thin at least since 1997
when he had his aneurysm. Peter’s behaviour had been consistent since 1997, in that he
chose a life of integrity and only expression of honest emotion. He also continued to
write down his thoughts. Because he remembered how he was before the accident,
they could be profoundly sad, but they were never malicious or violent. We found many
little notes that reflected his mind – perfectly reasonable statements interspersed with
odder statements. Things like ‘accept no help’; Oct 1 rent; ‘eat plums not apples’. He
talked to himself and he talked to his animals. He had times of more and less stress, but
he hadn’t snapped – he was reasonable and fine a few hours earlier.
Why did the RCMP tell us to check in with them and then leave the building deserted?
They knew we were coming, why didn’t they leave someone there with a radio to meet
us and take us there? How did CTV know something was going on and we didn’t? Why
was my repeated request ‘to be brought in to talk to Peter should any stand-off type
situation occur” ignored and our efforts disregarded? They had zero trouble finding us
to tell us our brother was dead – and global news too – why was it too much trouble to
get us to help preserve the life of our dear and vulnerable brother, and prevent the
killing from happening?e were told that ERT members were on the scene, not the RCMP in the office. Why
was the RCMP office deserted when we went to check in if they were not there on the
site? And then swarming when I went to use the phone after it happened?
My brother was spotted in a remote cabin in the wilderness. He was in a contained area,
he was extremely thin before this started, he had spent four days in the bush without
food or water evading the police using only his wits. He was not an imminent threat to
public safety – the public was not around. He had not committed any serious crime –
he’d done nothing other than supposedly shove someone and protect himself from
being gunned down. He was weak and could have been sleeping on his front with his
gun beside him pointed at the door.
It’s unlikely in escaping that he had time to outfit himself in any way. The police said
there was an interaction. It appears the interaction was that the ERT opened fire and
He was weak and tired, not an imminent threat and we were waiting to be told he’d
been found and brought to talk to him, calm him and bring him to safety. Why not use
non-lethal means or negotiation in a situation that is fully contained? Why not surround
the place and wait the couple hours it would take to go get us? Why not shave a few
hours off of the more than thirty-five hours that he lay dead in the dirt waiting for the
coroner? Was someone angry they’d been out-smarted by an untrained average
civilian? Was he deemed so alone and worthless that no one would even care that he
The distilled facts to my mind are as follows. We were right there asking and he was
executed instead of letting his family know he’d been found.
The officers on the scene had to have had a complete and utter disregard for his life or
they would have taken the time to try to save him. He was judged unworthy to live and
he was randomly given the death penalty for no good reason.
In short we are outraged. My brother suffered unspeakable tragedy and pain, spending
years rehabilitating himself from a devastating condition. Each and every person that
hears this should be humbled to their knees at the honesty and integrity with which he
lived his life – working so hard each and every day to overcome so many obstacles, with
the simple goals of being independent, free and happy. He was killed for being himself.
This is the first time in our lives that we have been ashamed to be Canadian. We felt the
need to clarify the utter shambles that caused our brother’s death. We are simply an
average Canadian family. And we wanted to tell you that if it can happen to us then it an certainly happen to you.
And so in an effort to restore dignity to a person who deserved nothing but admiration,
love and respect, we will attempt to alter the appalling, sorry state of affairs in our
country that is demonstrated by the death of our brother.
We will establish a fund or foundation in Peter’s name between now and the time of the
inquest into his death. Once the inquest is concluded we will assess the findings and
decide on a direction to pursue:
• A possible civil suit in order to hold those accountable for our brother’s wrongful
• Providing a first responder psychologist to any situation involving a person with a
history of mental health
• Reforming policy towards the use of deadly force in this country
• Establishing an enlightened, mandatory process by which ERT members must
carry out their work.
• Ensuring regular mandatory steroid and drug tests for any ERT member are
• Demanding regulations on the media to prevent last week’s relaying of hearsay
• Requiring better training and education of officers and other Ministry of Justice
personnel with regard to de-escalation, character assessment, knowledge of
emotional and physical abuse, and communication and project management
• And finally, establishing a support network without stigma for people in our
society who are functional and reasonably able, but who require additional
kindness, compassion and community support.
The time between now and the coroner’s inquest will be lengthy. At each milestone in
the process we will update the public through this forum. In the time between our
updates we ask that our privacy be respected.
I will close with a simple quote that I have always loved by Henry David Thoreau:
‘All good things are wild and free’. Peter, I deeply regret how you were failed by the
country you loved so dearly. You were and now you will forever be a good, good thing.