Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Whistler business owner dies in police incident

B.C. police watchdog investigating death
POLICE INCIDENT Whistler business owner Jason Koehler died in a police incident on March 8. Facebook photo

A man who died in a police incident at a village restaurant this weekend has been identified by family as Whistler business owner Jason Koehler.

A family member confirmed the news to Pique, but declined to comment on the incident at this time. Koehler is listed as the owner of 2 Guys with Pipes, a shop along the Village Stroll that sells cannabis accessories and paraphernalia.

In a release, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) said that a fatal police-involved incident occurred on March 8 at approximately 11:00 a.m. when RCMP officers responded to an incident in the village.

"During the interaction with police, both OC (pepper) spray and a conducted energy weapon were deployed," said the release. "It was reported the male went into medical distress and the IIO has since been informed the male has passed away."

A B.C. RCMP release added that officers attended the business after a complaint of an "intoxicated male who was causing a disturbance." The release went on to say that officers deployed batons as well as the OC spray and a conducted energy weapon "in an effort to gain control" of the man.

"The male suddenly became still and officers began CPR and called emergency health services," the release continued. The man was taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead.

Three officers were treated at hospital for minor injuries.

The RCMP said it has brought in additional resources from neighbouring communities to maintain policing levels in Whistler.

The civilian-led IIO is investigating what role, if any, the officers' actions or inaction may have played in Koehler's death.

The BC Coroners Service is also looking into the death.

The National Police Federation (NPF), a union representing roughly 20,000 RCMP members, said in a statement that it "has been engaged on the ground" and is supporting the members involved in Sunday's use-of-force incident.

"Our thoughts are with those involved and their families," the statement continued. "The NPF welcomes the investigation into these events specifically as well as recognizing the importance of civilian oversight."

A spokesperson for Gibbons Whistler confirmed the incident took place at Stonesedge Kitchen, and said that staff is receiving counselling support.

As previously reported by Pique, Koehler was involved in an April 2015 police incident that reportedly required seven officers to restrain him. At the time, police said they believed Koehler was in a "drug-induced psychosis" after ingesting what they suspected was a large amount of cocaine. Koehler was sentenced the following month on charges of assault and resisting a peace officer.

Any potential witnesses to this incident are asked to call the IIO witness line at 1-855-446-8477.

As the matter is under investigation, the RCMP said it would not be releasing any further information.