British Columbia

No charges recommended against police who fatally shot B.C. man with schizophrenia

An independent investigation into the death of a man with schizophrenia who was shot by police in Maple Ridge, B.C., has recommended no charges against the officers involved. 

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. releases details of the actions that led to Kyaw Naing Din's death

Kyaw Naing Din, 54, is pictured in this undated photograph with his sister, Myaing Dinsay. He died on Aug. 11, 2019, after he was shot by police. (Submitted by Yin Yin Hla Ma)

An independent investigation into the death of a man with schizophrenia who was shot by police in Maple Ridge, B.C., has recommended no charges against the officers involved.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C., which examines police-related deaths and injuries, released its report Thursday into the death of Kyaw Naing Din, 54, who was killed by police at his home on Aug. 11, 2019. 

The report calls the death and the events that led to it a "tragic situation" that did not meet the bar for criminal negligence. 

"It is important to judge situations such as these based on the information available to the police at the time, not on what is known now," the report concludes. 

"In this case, the actions of the police to effect what seemed to be a relatively routine process were reasonable and appropriate. Their actions do not constitute any form of criminal negligence or other criminal act." 

Family calls for justice

Din's family has repeatedly called for the officers to be fired and charged with murder. The family also wants RCMP to stop sending police to mental health calls. 

Following the release of the report, they said justice hasn't been served if the case won't be referred to Crown for prosecution.

"We are speechless. It is indescribable how today is a very, very sad day for us," said Din's sister, Yin Yin Din on Thursday.

"My brother was peaceful, and then he was sitting in the chair peacefully with only a bottle in his hand," she said.

Yin Yin Din, Kyaw Din's sister, stands next to her brothers Min Aung and Hlesaee Din. The three spoke to media after the release of the IIOBC report into Kyaw Din's death. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The family says Din was killed because of systemic discrimination against people with mental health illnesses and because he was a low-income immigrant and person of colour.

On the day of Din's death, his sister Yin Yin Hla Ma had called 911 for help taking him to hospital when he failed to recognize her and was threatening to hit her.

The 21-page report details the situation that led to his death.

It says officers responded reasonably to the situation when Din, who was isolated in his room and refused to leave to go to hospital, charged at officers with a knife in his hand after he had been Tasered. 

Sister had asked officers to wait: report

Yin Yin Din was with him at the time and was acting as an interpreter for him because he did not speak English.

She had asked the officers to wait for more family members to arrive, the report says, so they could help convince him to go with paramedics to the hospital. 

Din told the officers and paramedics that her brother had been "compliant and peaceful" with previous requests to go to hospital when he was unwell, usually because he had stopped taking his medication.

The Din family has rallied for justice for Kyaw Naing Din, arguing for more than a year that the officers involved in his death should be charged. (CBC)

The report says the officers and the paramedics agreed that Kyaw Din was at risk of harming himself and it wasn't clear if adding more people to the situation would have been helpful. 

The investigation included statements from six civilian witnesses, two paramedics and three witness police officers, as well as other evidence from the scene. 

Yin Yin Din, flanked by two brothers at a Coquitlam home on Thursday, held large laminated photos of her brother's body after the incident. She and her brothers called for a coroner's inquest into the death, as well as a public inquiry.

Andy Watson, spokesperson for the B.C. Coroners Service, said in a written statement that  the coroner's fact-finding investigation can proceed now that the Independent Investigations Office investigation has concluded.

"Normal practice is for all police-involved deaths to be reviewed at inquest," Watson wrote. "If an application is made to take this to inquest, it will be up to the chief coroner to officially consider and determine."

With files from Rafferty Baker

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