British Columbia

Coroner's inquest into fatal shooting of mentally ill man returns with 29 recommendations

Recommendations focus on improved police training, education, and agency information sharing

Posted: February 10, 2018
Last Updated: February 10, 2018

Vancouver police examine clothing in the intersection of Knight Street and East 41st Avenue after shooting a 51-year-old man who later died in hospital. (CBC)

A coroner's jury has released 29 recommendations from the inquest into the 2014 police shooting of a mentally ill man in Vancouver.

Phuong Na (Tony) Du, 51, was shot by officers at an intersection at 41st  Avenue and Knight Street on Nov. 22, 2014. A witness at the inquest testified that Du had been screaming and waving a two-by-four.

Du died from a gunshot wound to the torso.

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Following a week of expert and witness testimony, a five-person jury has issued recommendations on how to prevent a similar death.

Du's family told CBC News that he was struggling with schizophrenia, and took medication to control hallucinations and hearing voices.

Recommendations

The recommendations are directed at several agencies, including the Independent Investigations Office, a police watchdog group, the Vancouver Police Department, the Ministry of Health, and the City of Vancouver.

The jury recommends the IIO improve policies around releasing information to families so they can understand and heal after a tragic event. It also recommended the IIO automatically release its investigative files, where charges have not been laid, so police can determine if its practices should be changed or improved.

Six recommendations were made to Vancouver police, including keeping first aid kits in patrol vehicles, developing mental health de-escalation training scenarios, and prioritizing scene containment when responding to a call that concerns a person experiencing a mental health event.

Jury recommendations for the Ministry of Mental Health include creating a shared database that can be accessed by all provincial health authorities.

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It was recommended that the City of Vancouver increase funding to expand training for police-based mental health intervention services delivered by VPD and Vancouver Coastal Health.

The sister of Phuong Na Du, or Tony Du, attended a rally at Vancouver police headquarters Saturday. Du was shot by a police officer more than two years ago. (CBC )

'A step in the right direction'

Pivot Legal Society has been pushing for changes on how police respond to mental health related cases. The group was happy with some of the recommendations, calling them "a step in the right direction, but not a big enough step," according to a spokesperson.

The inquest was not tasked with assigning fault for Du's death.

The IIO had already reviewed the case and did not recommend any charges.

Remembering Tony

At the inquest, lawyer Frances Mahon read a statement from Du's family once testimony wrapped, saying Tony would not be forgotten.

"He was a compassionate man whose generosity knew no bounds. We need to show the same level of kindness, caring and compassion that Tony would show whether it be to a complete stranger or his own family. "


With files from Bridgette Watson.

Protesters rally outside Vancouver Police headquarters in 2017 after Tony Du, who struggled with schizophrenia, was shot by police. (CBC)

Cory Correia