Every day we seem to read more sad news. For veterans, the most shocking is the news B.C. police killed a fellow veteran in a long stand-off. For Eric Rebiere, a former RCMP constable and military veteran, he questions the validity of the news reports because none of it makes sense according to his experience. Here, he offers his perspective of the complicated and tragic case. BONNIE
AN INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE TRAGIC DEATH OF VETERAN GREG MATTERS
As a Military veteran and RCMP veteran, I was sick when I read this tragic story of fellow disabled veteran with PTSD being shot by the RCMP . I am a 24-year veteran of the RCMP and as a result of my two UN missions to the former Yugoslavia, PTSD ended my career. My heart goes out to the Matter’s family, and I want to think that something different could have been done to avoid Greg’s fatal shooting.
I am writing this in order to present a perspective in regards to all the negative comments aimed at the RCMP, as a whole painting 20,000 plus RCMP officers with the dysfunctional brush of incompetence.
In fairness to all involved in this tragedy, I want to present an objective perspective that needs to be said until the truth of what actually happened comes to light after the investigation is done by the BC Independent Investigations Office looking into this tragic incident.
All must remember no news agency was present as the long standoff took place. I have two news articles about the Matter’s shooting: one Canadian Press story posted by the CBC and the other a Canadian Press story in the Globe and Mail regarding Greg’s contact with the The Prince George Citizen News Paper.
The first thing that people need to realize is that newspapers exist to sell newspapers and need stories like this to make money. Newspapers make mistakes. In this case, the Canadian Press story posted by the CBC was later amended:
Corrections and Clarifications
In an earlier version of this story The Canadian Press erroneously reported that Greg Matters’s sister, Tracey, said he may have been suicidal. In fact, Tracey Matters did not say her brother may have been suicidal.
Sept 14, 2012|12:00 p.
Was Greg Matters prevented from talking to his doctor at the Vancouver OSI clinic by the RCMP? Greg’s sister made the comment in the CBC story that he was prevented from talking to his doctor. Was he? Did Greg reach out to the OSI clinic during the standoff? He stated that he would rather talk to his doctor at the OSI clinic other than the The Prince George Citizen newspaper, which was described as “conflicting.”
It makes no sense for the RCMP to prevent Greg Matters from reaching out to his doctor at the OSI clinic in Vancouver by cellular phone or land line if it would end the stand-off with the RCMP peacefully. The priority is to de-escalate situations like this.
Did the RCMP cut Greg’s phone line or jamb his cell phone if he had one? Why? Did Greg have a cell phone, and if he did, what prevented him from calling the OSI clinic in Vancouver? Did he? Do people out there actually believe the RCMP cut Greg’s phone line or was jamming his cell phone and or shut down the cell tower in the area to isolate Greg? Why would the RCMP do this? So they could kill him? I personally do not think so.
Was Greg’s doctor at the OSI clinic available if Greg had in fact called? I know from personal experience that the RCMP would not go to Greg’s residents with the soul intention of killing a veteran.
The newspapers reported that a violent altercation had taken place between Greg and his brother resulting in a car chase, car crash and a fight. What was the conflict between Greg and his brother that resulted in this violent altercation? There is much more to this story than what appears on the surface. Did the newspapers get their facts straight? Did Greg’s sister get all the facts before making the statement that her brother was not allowed to call his doctor at the OSI clinic in Vancouver?
I repeat: The responsibility of all Police services is to de-escalate violent situations and to prevent situations from getting violent and out of control so that no one gets hurt, either the suspect or the police officer(s) involved.
Being a trained Volunteer of the OSISS program here in Kingston and a long-time advocate for the Harper Government to fund the Occupational Stress Injury Social Support program for the RCMP that desperately needs OSISS, I would personally like to know if the RCMP officers at the scene knew what they were dealing with? Did they know Greg was a Canadian military veteran with PTSD? Did The Prince George Citizen newspaper pass on to the RCMP when they received the emails from Greg Mathers during the stand-off that he had PTSD?
Greg had stated, according to The Prince George Citizen, in his emails that he was seeing a doctor at the OSI clinic in Vancouver. Knowing this, we can reasonably assume that Greg was suffering from an OSI i.e. Post Traumatic Stress Injury. Was this relayed to the RCMP? Did the RCMP officers, in particular the officer-in-charge, know about dealing with a person with an Occupational Stress Injury like PTSD and the triggers an individual would react to with police at the door. especially an RCMP tactical team. Did the officer-in-charge of the situation have the appropriate training in regards to dealing with persons with OSI’s like PTSD?
The Harper Government’s reluctance to fund the OSISS program for the RCMP, which also includes the important aspect of education about Occupational Stress Injuries like PTSD, may well be a mitigating circumstance in the death of Greg Mathers. If this is the case, I would think the Harper Government has a measure of responsibility in Greg’s death.
The RCMP themselves in 2006 and recently in 2010 recommended the OSISS program in two detailed reports. These recommendations have fallen on deaf ears. It really pisses me off to know that, after a tragic incident like this, Minister of Defence Mackay’ reaction is to throw 11 million taxpayers’ dollars (of course by the blessing of his boss Prime Minister Harper) in order to pay for more help for Canadian Veterans suffering from PTSD like Greg Mathers. Would it not be a prudent move to throw a few million dollars that would be well spent for funding the OSISS program for the RCMP, which would include education at all levels. Was the lack of education about OSI a factor in all this?
I know the value of the OSISS program and have helped a good number of military veterans over the years, but the Harper Government has forsaken the RCMP as far as the OSISS program goes. Yet, after a tragedy like this, always seems to have sufficient taxpayers’ money to throw at a problem after one takes place.
I really feel for Greg and his family and do wish things could have ended differently. The truth will come out and those who deserve to ride the lightening ride it.
As for now, I know the officer who shot Greg Matters has to live with this for life and to what end? There is only pain all around when this happens. All I ask is that people out their reserve their judgment of the RCMP until the facts come out once the investigation has come to a conclusion.
There are a lot of RCMP officers all over Canada – some 20,000 plus – who are doing their duty to protect Canadian society to the best of their abilities, both here and on missions abroad. Of course there are exceptions to the rule within all Canadian Police agencies, even within the Canadian military. A fact of life: All Canadians deserve due process, and in this case, the Mathers family as well as the RCMP.
Eric Rebiere (Former Cst. RCMP 37515 LSGC and Military Veteran)
- Victim of Prince George police shooting was veteran suffering from PTSD (vancouversun.com)
- Veteran shot dead by B.C. police treated for PTSD (cbc.ca)
- ‘I AM a good person,’ police-shooting victim told Prince George Citizen (theprovince.com)
- Major depression drives suicidal thinking in soldiers and vets, new Canadian study show (canada.com)