British Columbia

'Negligent' police shooting nets family $354K award

A Saanich, B.C., police officer was 'grossly negligent' in the shooting death of a Victoria man in 2004, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled.

A Saanich, B.C., police officer was "grossly negligent" in the shooting death of a Victoria man, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled in awarding the man's family $354,000 in damages.

Saanich Const. Kristopher Dukeshire shot Majencio Camaso, 33, three times as he charged at the officer carrying a steel pipe and crowbar in July 2004.

Dukeshire had arrived at the man's home in the community near Victoria in response to a 911 call from his wife, Theresa Camaso, who told police that her mentally ill husband had threatened to set their apartment on fire.

An external RCMP investigation of the shooting found the use of force reasonable and no criminal charges were laid against Dukeshire.

Theresa Camaso launched a lawsuit against the three Saanich police officers who had responded to her 911 call, former police chief Derek Egan, the District of Saanich and a paramedic at the scene.

Justice Grant Burnyeat disagreed with the conclusions of the RCMP probe, writing in his ruling that, "Dukeshire breached the duty of care owed to Mr. Camaso when he did not use the least amount of force necessary to carry out his duties."

Burnyeat said he found Dukeshire's actions "grossly negligent."

Canada-wide implications

"It's been an emotional roller coaster for me," said Camaso Wednesday after the ruling was released. "I can't emphasize how difficult it was for me in this case to fight an institution."

She said she didn't know if she, "had what it takes to fight it," but relied on the conviction that, "I just know I am fighting the right fight."

The decision could have an effect on police procedures across the country, said a lawyer for the family, Jacqueline Horton.

"This particular decision has significant implications for all police forces throughout Canada," said Horton. "In the way they investigate their officers and they way they apply the use-of-force model."

Camaso's said a big financial settlement was never her goal.

"This fight is not about money — it's about finding justice for me and my daughter. And if I could prevent finding something similar from happening again, then I believe I win my case, I would find some type of closure."

Saanich police spokesman Sgt. Dean Jantzen said the force's lawyers were reviewing the court decision and declined further comment.