A Williams Lake city councillor has issued a public apology for sharing videos and photos on Facebook of an unfolding police incident Sunday, July 10 where a man eventually died from what police said appeared to be a self-inflicted injury.
“Following the tragic events on Sunday, July 10, I deeply regret sharing this information on my personal Facebook page. I offer my heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and community of the victim, and apologize if my actions caused further trauma or upset. This was not my intention, and I am truly sorry,” said Scott Nelson in a prepared statement.
Nelson told the Tribune he initially went to the scene because an elderly family member called him concerned about a strong police presence in an apartment building across the street.
When he saw the North District Emergency Response Team there he said he became concerned the “community was experiencing a retaliation for the attack behind the Stampede Grounds the previous weekend.”
“At the time, I had no idea that the police were responding to a report of possible self-harm.”
An aunt and sister-in-law of the man who died told the Tribune it really hurt the family to see Nelson’s videos on Facebook.
“Scott Nelson needs to know that. He is a leader in the community and this is not how a leader should be acting. We should have not been learning about the situation through Facebook,” they said.
Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars said he had a discussion with Nelson about making an apology.
“I encouraged him to reach out to the family and encouraged him to make a public apology because we know how much of an impact his videos had on the families that were impacted.”
Williams Lake chief administrative officer Gary Muraca said the city does not endorse or monitor the activities of elected officials on their personal social media accounts.
“Official communications from the city of Williams Lake are distributed through its website, social media accounts and press releases,” Muraca said.
Nelson noted in his formal apology that one of his goals as an elected official is to share Williams Lake events with residents, however, he understands now that he also needs to balance that with a consideration for privacy.
Tŝilhqot’in National Government tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse joined others criticizing Nelson’s actions.
“The parents of that young man found out through his posts,” Alphonse said. “Having his mug reporting on something like that was not appropriate. He’s not a reporter.”
Alphonse offered his condolences and prayers to the family.