Widow of former soldier shot by police granted standing at inquest

The widow of a former member of the Canadian Forces who was killed in a December 2007 confrontation with Winnipeg police was granted standing Wednesday at the inquest into his death.

Former Canadian Forces member Roy Thomas Bell was shot multiple times by police in 2007

An inquest into the police shooting death of 44-year-old Roy Thomas Bell is set to begin in early 2017. (CBC)

The widow of a former member of the Canadian Forces who was killed in a December 2007 confrontation with Winnipeg police has been granted standing at the inquest into his death.

The Winnipeg Police Service was also granted standing at the hearing held Wednesday that determined who can participate and question witnesses in the death of 44-year-old Roy Thomas Bell.

In December 2007, officers responded to a 911 call on Langside Street about a man threatening residents at an apartment block. Police later said that when officers arrived, Bell was in possession of a gun and another weapon, possibly a bat. Officers used a stun gun on Bell but it had no effect. Police then fired their handguns, hitting Bell multiple times.

Bell was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Dec. 18, after being transported to hospital.

At the time, witnesses told CBC they heard a man they thought might have been Bell telling the officers to shoot him, raising speculation that he may have committed "suicide by cop."

Bell served in the military for more than 20 years before he was released in 2004. Friends previously told CBC he had been dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The chief medical examiner called for the inquest under the Fatality Inquiries Act to explore the circumstances and events leading to the death. The inquest is supposed to find out what, if anything, can be done to prevent similar deaths.

The court heard Wednesday that only two parties had expressed interest in seeking standing at the inquest, Darlene Bell and Winnipeg Police. Provincial court Judge Theodore Lismer will preside over the inquest. 

Standing allows the parties to ask questions of the witnesses. 

Ron Toews, the lawyer appointed to the inquest, said during the proceeding that he was still waiting to finalize the list of witnesses who will be called to testify. He estimated approximately 10 people may be called, including two psychiatrists who were treating Bell around the time of his death. 

Toews also suggested the inquest could take three to four days to complete. A date for the inquest to begin was not decided.

With files from Holly Caruk