The family of Maple Ridge police shooting victim Kyaw Naing Din is asking for a coroner’s inquest into the circumstances that led to their brother’s death.
The request, sent to Lisa Lapointe, B.C.’s chief coroner, alleges RCMP officers shot and killed Din without justification.
It was sent by his siblings Yin Yin Hla Ma, Hla Myaing Ma, and Thant Zin Maung through their lawyer Jason Gratl.
Din, a 54-year-old Burmese immigrant, was shot on Aug. 11 in his Maple Ridge home, after his family called 9-1-1 for assistance.
“Mr. Din suffered from schizophrenia, spoke little English, and relied on his siblings for support,” Gratl said. “Mr. Din’s sister, Ms. Ma, called 9-1-1 to request assistance with taking her brother to hospital when he failed to recognized her as his sister.”
According to Yin Yin Ma, before her brother was shot there were two officers at the house awaiting the arrival of paramedics. He was peaceful, in his bedroom, she said. Two paramedics and two more RCMP officers arrived. The two later-arriving officers entered Din’s bedroom, where they used a Taser and then shot the victim three times, said the family.
“Officers entered the residence and located three individuals, one of which had a knife. During the course of the interaction, a conducted energy weapon was deployed but was not successful, and another police officer fired their gun,” BC RCMP communications director Dawn Roberts said on the day of the shooting.
The family disputes whether Din had a weapon or reacted violently to police.
“The competing version of events that led to Mr. Din’s death raise troubling credibility issues that are impossible to reconcile without a coroner’s inquest,” said Gratl.
“The RCMP should never be barging with guns drawn into the bedroom of a person with limited English and mental health problems. There is enough evidence here to be seriously concerned about another RCMP cover up.”
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) is investigating, as it does after any officer-involved deaths in the province.
A coroner’s inquest is a formal court proceeding before a jury, with testimony given by witnesses under oath, to determine facts relating to a death.
The jury may make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in future.
Gratl said an inquiry is important in this case, for the public to know “whether RCMP policy or training is at fault for what has happened.”
BC Coroners Service spokesperson Andy Watson said under the Coroners Act it is mandatory for any death in the custody of police officers, in fact all peace officers, to be reviewed through inquest. It will be up to the Coroners Service to determine if this death meets the criteria. If not, the chief coroner also has discretionary powers to hold inquests in death investigations when it may be in the public interest.
Because in any IIO investigation there is potential for charges to be recommended, formal inquest direction is not undertaken until the IIO concludes its investigation, he explained.
“We are a fact-finding agency, not fault-finding, an inquest may not make any finding that implies legal responsibility,” Watson added.
The Alliance Against Displacement and the family held a rally on Oct. 5 to call for murder charges against the officer who fired the shots, and for police to no longer attend mental health calls.