VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Calling the shooting of a man on the Downtown Eastside last week a “police murder” and “execution,” various neighbourhood organizations held a vigil Tuesday to remember the victim.
On Jan. 5, shortly before 5 a.m. Vancouver Police Department were called to the area of Princess Avenue and Hastings Street to a man with a weapon acting “erratic and aggressive.”
Police ended up shooting and killing the man.
The community is identifying the victim of last week’s fatal shooting as a man named Chester, a 37-year-old living on the Downtown Eastside.
Meenakshi Mannoe with PIVOT Legal Society says she’s seen extended footage of the events leading up to the shooting, and she thinks it could have played out differently.
“For me watching this, I see multiple other entries into the situation that didn’t need to escalate to a fatal shooting,” she says.
Mannoe tells NEWS 1130 the vigil is a chance for the neighbourhood to grieve and commemorate Chester’s life.
“[Organizers] really saw this incident as a killing of a comrade — of someone who may have been a drug user. Someone who was in a situation that’s not necessarily unique. A lot of people who are impacted by substance use and the criminalization of drugs can experience, mental distress or psychosis, or an altered state. And I think when people saw the person on the street, naked, holding a large object in their hand — obviously feeling quite unsafe and probably not experiencing reality as many other people would — they felt a lot of compassion for the situation that [Chester] found himself in.”
Downtown Eastside residents and advocates walked to where the man was fatally shot and held a candlelight vigil honouring his life while denouncing police brutality and calling for an end to what they call a war on poverty.
In a statement, the VPD say, “The Downtown Eastside continues to be a challenge when it comes to public safety, due to the complex issues, and the unique environment.”
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the province’s police watchdog, are investigating as they do in any police encounter that results in death or serious harm.