British Columbia

Coroners jury recommends better supports for police attending mental health incidents

Jury also recommended better continuity of care for people with a history of stopping their antipsychotic medication against recommendation.

Kyaw Naing Maung was having a psychotic episode when he was shot 3 times by a Ridge Meadows RCMP officer

Yin Yin Din, Kyaw Naing Maung's sister, pictured next to brothers Min Aung and Hlesaee Din. The jury of the B.C. Coroners Inquest into Kyaw Naing Maung's death has recommended increasing funding for resources to support first responders dealing with mental health incidents. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Case managers in the public health service need to remain in regular contact with clients suffering chronic schizophrenia who have a history of not taking their medication, the jury in an inquest into a police-involved death has recommended. 

The recommendation was the first of three made by the B.C. Coroners Inquest jury into the police shooting of Kyaw Naing Maung in his Maple Ridge bedroom in August 2019.

Maung, 54, had stopped taking his schizophrenia medication and was experiencing a mental health emergency when he was shot three times by a Ridge Meadows RCMP officer.

Police and ambulance paramedics came to the house after his sister called 911 to request he be taken to hospital, as had happened previously without incident when he was off his anti psychotic drugs.

The jury also recommended increasing funding for resources to support first responders and dispatchers dealing with mental health incidents, and the creation of a mental health and addiction awareness teaching model to address stigma around issues of mental health.

The jury heard how police are usually first responders to a growing number of mental health incidents. 

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C., which looks into police-involved deaths, said police use of force in the case was "reasonable" because Maung charged the officers who entered his room with a paring knife. It said the circumstances did not meet the bar for criminal charges against police.

The family of Kyaw Naing Maung pictured at the B.C. Coroners Office in Burnaby, B.C. on March 7, 2022, outside of the inquest into the 2019 police-involved shooting of Kyaw Naing Maung. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

An attempt by an officer to immobilize Maung with a Taser failed when one of the two prongs did not attach to him.

Maung's siblings were adamant throughout the IIO investigation and Coroners Inquest that the officers involved should be charged with murder. 

Coroners inquests are not responsible for finding legal responsibility or making legal conclusions, but coroners juries can make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances.

Maung's sister, Yin Yin Din, told the inquest that she asked police to wait five minutes for older siblings to arrive and help de-escalate the situation. She said officers ignored her request and entered Maung's room anyway.

The jury also heard how the situation was complicated by the fact that Maung spoke only Burmese, meaning both he and police needed his sister to act as a translator. 

The first two officers on scene said they decided to apprehend Maung under the Mental Health Act because he was schizophrenic, off his medication and presenting a danger to himself and others.

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