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Surrey Police officer who died at gun range was under breach of trust investigation

Dilbag “Dylan” Hothi, the suspended Surrey Police Service officer who died at a shooting range on Wednesday, was remembered on Facebook for optimism and kindness.
Dilbag "Dylan" Hothi marching in the Feb. 10, 2019 Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade with the British Columbia Regiment | Albert Law, 39 CBG Public Affairs/Facebook

Dilbag “Dylan” Hothi, the suspended Surrey Police Service officer who died at a shooting range on Wednesday, was remembered on Facebook for optimism and kindness.

“He was the kind of guy who would lend a helping hand to anyone in need,” wrote Adam Bach, a competitive shooter and firearms trainer. “Sometimes feeding off the positive vibes of others helps your own personal headspace and this individual was never short on being positive.”

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) said Hothi, 26, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot at The Range Langley.

Hothi was listed as a new recruit in the Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles newsletter in 2016 and photographed in combat uniform with the Canadian Forces delegation at the Vancouver Chinatown Lunar New Year parade in 2019. He had a year of experience with the RCMP before joining the Surrey Police Service.

However, Hothi was arrested last Aug. 16 for alleged breach of trust.

Chief Norm Lipinski issued a statement after being contacted by a reporter, confirming that one of his officers had been suspended with pay, pending the result of an “active and ongoing” investigation. He also said the force notified the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner about the incident. At the time, a charge had not been approved by the BC Prosecution Service, Lipinski said.

A source familiar with the investigation said detectives were probing whether a police officer provided information to someone associated with a gang.

Asked Thursday for status of the file, BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) spokesperson Daniel McLaughlin said “BCPS has no information to share on this matter at this time.”

Hothi’s death came the week after a BC Coroners Service inquest into the 2019 suicide of Vancouver Police Const. Nicole Chan. The five jurors made 12 recommendations, eight of which were directed to Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer. The recommendations included mandatory psychological interviews for every officer candidate, mandatory annual check-ins with a psychologist and a peer-support case representative assigned to regularly contact each employee on mental health leave. Palmer said he would take time to consider the recommendations.

Surrey Police Service spokesperson Ian MacDonald did not answer questions about SPS policies and procedures for mental health evaluations of job candidates.

“The SPS recruiting, interviewing and vetting process is thorough and rigorous,” MacDonald said. "We maintain continued and consistent contact with all our staff regardless of their working status.” 

Langley RCMP referred queries about the incident to the B.C. RCMP’s senior public information officer, S. Sgt. Kris Clark, who refused to comment.

IIO said its investigation will seek to confirm what role, if any, police actions or inactions may have played in Hothi’s death. The civilian agency’s statement said Langley RCMP officers were attempting to locate a man reported to be in distress at The Range Langley.

“The man, who was identified as an off-duty member of the Surrey Police Service, sustained a serious injury that appears to have been self-inflicted while police were in the building,” IIO said. “The man was subsequently pronounced deceased.”

Range Langley is a public, no-license-required facility near the Golden Ears Bridge and marketed as “Canada’s largest shooting range.” Its website says it supports and employs Canadian military and police members.

The Range Indoor Shooting Inc.’s only director is Dustin Sikora, who is also one of four directors of the Range Indoor Shooting Club society.