British Columbia

Advocate wants answers from coroner's inquest into death of man shot by Vancouver police

Twenty-six-year-old Abdi Gani Mahamud Hirsi, of Edmonton, was shot and killed on April 9, 2015 in the middle of what police described as a stabbing rampage.

After Abdi Gani Mahamud Hirsi was killed, advocates called for better mental health services

Vigil held for man killed by Vancouver police 2:17

The B.C. Coroner's Service will hold an inquest into the police shooting of a man on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside three years ago.

26-year-old Abdi Gani Mahamud Hirsi, of Edmonton, was shot and killed on April 9, 2015 in the middle of what police described as a stabbing spree.

Hirsi, the Vancouver Police Department said at the time, stabbed two people before officers found him.

Police shot him with bean bag rounds, they said, which failed to subdue him. He did not drop the knife.

He was stabbing a third person when police said officers fatally shot him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A coroner's inquest can explore the circumstances contributing to a death and make recommendations to prevent future deaths but cannot assign fault.

Hirsi was in police custody when he was shot, the coroner said, making an inquest into his death mandatory.

At the time, advocates said Hirsi's death might have been avoidable. There were calls for better mental health services, especially services that understood Hirsi's language and culture. He was said to be of Somali descent.

Systemic problems

One person hoping for answers is Jean de Dieu Hakizimana, advocate and director of the African and Black Legal Clinic. He describes himself as someone who has been speaking up for black Vancouverites and African immigrants for 20 years.

He said if Hirsi was able to access mental health services relevant to his background he might still be alive today.

Police shot and killed a man on the Downtown Eastside three years ago after he went on a stabbing spree. (Chantal Bellrichard/CBC)

"We are lacking in services providers on the front lines to help these people," Hakizimana said, frustration in his voice. "Racism and discrimination is what we live every single day we are here in British Columbia."

He said governments need to wake up to the growing number of African-descended people living in B.C. and plan to support and integrate them.

He also is critical of police for using lethal force against Hirsi 

"People are really upset about what happened."

The inquest will begin Nov. 5 at the Burnaby Coroners' Court.

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