Two Vancouver police officers won’t face charges for civilian death

No charges for officers in civilian death

VICTORIA — Two Vancouver police officers will not be facing charges related to the shooting death of a man who had a history of mental illness, British Columbia’s Criminal Justice Branch said Thursday.

It’s a decision that disappoints the legal advocacy group Pivot Legal Society, which said officers acted too quickly when they shot Tony Du three times.

The officers had responded to reports of a distraught 51-year-old man swinging a two-by-four at an intersection in the city’s east end on Nov. 22, 2014.

A report from the justice branch said the man pointed the two-by-four at the officers in a threatening manner and did not comply with their orders to drop it, leading one officer to discharge a beanbag weapon.

When the less lethal option failed to stop the suspect, the branch said the second officer shot the man, who was taken to hospital but died during in surgery.

The entire altercation, from when police first arrived at the scene to when an ambulance was requested, happened within a minute and 14 seconds.

The branch said the man had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had previously suffered from hallucinations, but did not have a history of being violent.

A branch statement said evidence collected by the Independent Investigation Office showed that officers acted reasonably and charges related to murder, manslaughter or use of force would not likely result in a conviction.

Douglas King, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society, announced plans for a civil lawsuit on behalf of the family, saying the investigation leaves them with many questions about why officers used deadly force so quickly.

“In our opinion there is so much more that could have been done before using lethal force against Mr. Du,” King said at a news conference.

The legal group has identified what it sees as a number of flaws in the investigation, saying reports do not include a photo or detailed description of the wooden board Du was carrying or an explanation on to what degree it could be considered a weapon.

The group said an explanation on what type of de-escalation training the officers received and whether that was followed is also missing from the report.

King also raised concerns about the investigation’s use of a retired Vancouver police sergeant as an expert on police use of force, saying such experts tend to side with police.

He suggested it also undermines the independence of the investigation.

King said investigators and the Crown have left the man’s family feeling “absolutely distraught” and “intensely disappointed.”

“They leave it to the family to seek justice themselves,” he said.

 

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

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