VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Lawyers for a Vancouver family are presenting five recommendations to an inquest that begins today, into the death of a 51-year-old man back in 2014.
Tony Du was waving a two-by-four at Knight and 41st when police arrived, on the evening of November 22. When he confronted the officers, they first fired with bean bag guns, then shot him.
Du had schizophrenia.
Last year the Crown announced the police officer who shot Du won’t be facing any criminal charges and Du’s family launched a civil lawsuit against the VPD and the city of Vancouver.
The Pivot Legal Society is now representing his family and the organization’s Camia Weaver wonders why there was a heavy-handed response to the situation.
“He was definitely showing signs of mental illness at the time. It was recognized that that was what was happening but the approach that was taken was really contrary to all best practices in mental health response.”
Weaver has a few ideas heading into the inquest, noting police shouldn’t be resorting to guns when approaching a distraught person.
“We would really like to see, instead of using weapons, that police officers first try using shields. In England this has been very successful in order to contain an individual,” she tells NEWS 1130.
The society is also recommending for the police department to create a crisis intervention team. “They select 20 per cent of their general duty officers, train them up to a high level in mental health response and crisis communication.”
Weaver adds dispatchers need to approach these types of calls differently.
“We would really like to see 911 call takers in order that they can recognize signs of a possible mental health distress.”
The inquest will last five days.