Public Inquest Called Into Vancouver Police Killing of Tony Du in 2014

It has been announced that the BC Coroners Service will hold a public inquest into the fatal shooting of 51-year-old Phuong Na (Tony) Du by Vancouver police in 2014. Du was killed by Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers in public while in some psychological distress on Knight Street near 41st Avenue in Vancouver.

Two officers responded to calls about DU with one firing a been bag gun at him  and the other shooting him with a firearm. Du was taken to hospital where he died from the injuries inflicted by police. Du experienced mental illness.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia investigated the killing but charges were not recommended by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) for the two officers responsible. The CJB claimed the use of a firearm by one of the officers was justifiable on the basis of his belief that his partner’s life was in danger, despite the fact that the other officer was armed.

In February 2017, Tony Du’s family launched a civil suit against the City of Vancouver and the police officer who fired the fatal shot in the killing. Lawyers representing the victim’s family note that Tony Du was killed between only 18 and 25 seconds after police arrived on the scene. This time was no where near long enough for police to begin a conversation with Du let alone establish his mental condition.

The public inquest into the police killing of Tony Du will commence on February 5, 2018, at the Burnaby Coroners Court. As per usual, the coroner’s jury will be able to make recommendations that might prevent deaths under similar circumstances but which police are under no obligation at all to follow. The jury cannot make any finding of legal responsibility or blame and can not recommend charges against any killer cop.

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Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo Charged With Breaching Bail Conditions

Killer Toronto cop James Forcillo, who shot and killed teenager Sammy Yatim, who was alone on an empty streetcar, in 2013 and was later convicted of attempted murder in that case, was charged on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, for breaching his bail conditions. The Special Investigations Unit, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, has reported that Constable Forcillo, who has been out on bail while he appeals his conviction, was accused of breaching conditions related to his house arrest, but they have provided no additional details about the case.

Forcillo’s force, the Toronto police, have reported that Forcillo was charged with failing to comply with recognizance.  Forcillo was allegedly found at a new residence address in violation of his bail conditions. Constable Forcillo was arrested by Toronto police at around 7:30 AM and made a brief court appearance shortly after 11 AM before being remanded into custody. According to Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, a bail hearing on this new charge has been put over to Friday, November 17.

Forcillo had his bail conditions extended in late September of 2017, only one day before he was set to appeal his 2016 conviction in the killing of Sammy Yatim. Forcillo, who shot Yatim multiple times, even after the youth had fallen to the ground from a fatal shot, was sentenced to six years in prison, one year more than the mandatory minimum.

The judge in Forcillo’s trial referred to video of the killing as “powerful evidence” that what the officer claimed occurred during the encounter did not actually occur. Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward found that Forcillo had abused his authority in a manner that served to undermine public trust in law enforcement and the justice system.

In despicable fashion, Constable Forcillo has sought an appeal in his case on the basis of the dubious claim that Yatim was attempting to commit “suicide by cop.” This is a nonsensical ruse used by killer cops to justify cases where they actively decide to kill someone, even if the victim they choose to kill is alone on a street car, away from anyone else, and posing not immediate threat to officers of the public. It is a pure piece of copaganda that serves to exonerate killer cops while blaming their victims. Of course, cops can choose not to shoot to kill. They decide, not the victim, which marks this as very distinct from suicide.

Ed Upenieks, a lawyer for the Yatim family, noted that the alleged breach of conditions by Forcillo shows the officer has a lack of respect for the system. According to Upenieks: “It calls into question his respect for the legal system and for the bail conditions” (quoted in Freeman 2017).

 

Further Reading

Freeman, Joshua. 2017. “Cop in Sammy Yatim Case Arrested After Allegedly Being Found at New Home.” CP24.com November 15. http://www.cp24.com/news/cop-convicted-in-sammy-yatim-case-arrested-after-allegedly-being-found-at-new-home-1.3679007


Manitoba RCMP Kill 18-Year-Old Bill Saunders (November 15, 2017)

Manitoba RCMP shot and killed an 18-year-old man, identified publicly as Bill Saunders by his mother, during an attempted arrest in the early morning of November 15, 2017, at Lake Manitoba First Nation near St. Laurent, Manitoba. Saunders lived in Eriksdale, Manitoba. He leaves behind a girlfriend who is one month pregnant. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), which examines cases of police violence to civilians in Manitoba, is investigating.

According to the IIU an RCMP officer had his unmarked police vehicle and gun stolen by Saunders while the officer was transporting him to the remand center in Winnipeg. This has not been independently confirmed publicly. It has also not been confirmed why Saunders was a prisoner, how he was being held, or why he was being transported that distance by a single officer in a single vehicle.

Lake Manitoba First Nation Chief Cornell McLean has reported that the victim had arrested after stealing from some video lottery terminals in Lake Manitoba on Saturday. He was allegedly arrested on Monday.

Police claim the incident started at around 8:30 PM, November 14, on Highway 6, about 95 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg. RCMP did not alert the public until around midnight. A police news release at that time said the man was driving an unmarked white police van and said there would be a heavy police presence in the area. Saunders was located just before 1 AM on a highway near Lake Manitoba First Nation, about 100 kilometers north of St. Laurent. He was shot by RCMP and pronounced dead on the scene.

It has not been released publicly how many officers fired weapons, how many who fired hit the victim, or how many shots were fatal. Witness Mark Peikoff, owner of the Good Used Stuff store south of St. Laurent, has said that the police encounter happened, and ended, very quickly.

The Lake Manitoba First Nation was put on lockdown during the police manhunt in the area. The road into Lake Manitoba First Nation at Highway 417 remained blocked by RCMP as of the morning of November 15.


Coroner’s Inquest Begins in Custody Death of Ebony Aaron Wood in Quesnel, BC

A coroner’s inquest into the November 7, 2016, in-custody death of Ebony Aaron Wood (36) in Quesnel, British Columbia, began Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The BC Coroners Service reports that Wood was involved in a vehicular incident and was taken into custody and placed in a police cruiser on November 5, 2016. He apparently told an RCMP officer that he had chest and shoulder pain and an ambulance was called. Wood was transferred to the ambulance to be taken to hospital. At some point en route he exited the rear of the ambulance falling to the road and suffering a head injury. He dies two days later on November 7, 2016.

The inquest is mandatory because Wood was in the custody of a police officer at the time of his death. Regional coroner Donita Kuzma will be joined by a jury in hearing from witnesses in an attempt to establish the facts of Wood’s death. Coroners’ inquests do not assign fault in such deaths, and its recommendations need not be followed by any police force or officers.


23-Year-Old Dies in Police Custody at Montreal Courthouse (Nov. 8, 2017)

A 23-year old man has died in police custody after being transferred to the Montreal municipal courthouse. The Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Quebec, has assigned a team of 15 investigators to examine the circumstances of the death. According to the BEI, initial reports suggest the victim was arrested by Montreal police at 10:40 PM on the evening of Tuesday, November 7, 2017. On Wednesday, November 8, at around 7:30 AM he was transferred to the Montreal municipal courthouse where he was set to await his court appearance later that day. BEI claims that at around 8:55 AM officers assigned to watch the prisoners became aware that the victim was on the ground and apparently unconscious. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead only one hour later. Details of this case have not been independently confirmed publicly.


Halifax Regional Police Constables Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner Charged in Custody Death of Corey Rogers

Halifax Regional Police Special Constables Daniel Fraser and Cheryl Gardner have been charged with criminal negligence causing death after 41-year-old Corey Rogers was found dead in a police station cell in the early morning hours of June 16, 2016. Despite paramedics being called, Rogers could not be revived. Constables Fraser and Gardner were working as booking officers on the night of Rogers’s arrest and detention.

Corey Rogers death came only hours after the birth of his daughter. He had been arrested for public intoxication the previous evening outside of the IWK Health Centre.

The case was initially given to Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), which investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province. SIRT referred the case to prosecutors in Manitoba because the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service apparently wished to avoid an appearance of conflict.

Rogers’s death has also been the subject of a Police Act investigation. That investigation is now on hold pending the outcome of the criminal charges.


SIU Investigating Death of 44-Year-Old Man During Arrest in Brampton (Oct. 31, 2017)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating the death of a 44-year-old man during an arrest outside a home in Brampton on October 31, 2017.

According to the SIU, a 911 call was made to Peel Region police at around 8:45 AM. The SIU further suggests that police officers arrived at a residence near Bovaird Drive and McLaughlin Road sometime later. There police reportedly “interacted with a man” who was then taken to hospital where he later died. The SIU statement did not provide any specific detail regarding what the “interaction” entailed, any details of the man’s injuries, or why the 911 call was made in the first place.

The SIU has said in a statement that two officers are under investigation. Details about the victim’s identity have not been released publicly.