British Columbia

Tony Du wouldn't have been killed if I hadn't called 911, testifies witness to police shooting

An inquiry into the fatal shooting of Tony Du by Vancouver police heard from the man who called 911 while Du reportedly brandished a two-by-four at a Vancouver intersection.

Coroners inquest into fatal shooting of mentally ill Vancouver man continues this week

Vancouver police examine the aftermath of the fatal shooting 51-year-old Tony Du in 2014. (CBC)

An inquiry into the fatal shooting of Tony Du by Vancouver police heard from the man who called 911 while Du reportedly brandished a two-by-four at a Vancouver intersection.

Wayne Klyne testified Monday that he told investigators that Du — a distraught, mentally ill man — would not have been killed if he hadn't made the call.

Klyne says he called 911 on Nov. 22, 2014, to report Du screaming and waving a two-by-four at the intersection of Knight Street and East 41st Avenue. He says he watched Du from a nearby donut shop.

"He's standing on the corner, screaming, with a big stick in his hand," Klyne said in his 911 call, a recording of which was played Monday. "The traffic's out there, he's screaming and hollering."

Klyne testified that within minutes, he saw a police cruiser pull up. An officer got out and removed a gun from the trunk.

He said Du started to run toward the officer, waving the two-by-four over his head.

"He just swung the bat at the police officer!" Klyne told the 911 operator.

Du reportedly got as far as the median when Klyne said, "the officer just shot him."

He fell to a fetal position, Klyne testified, and just stayed there.

'No ability to control his behaviour'

Tony Du — also known as Phuong Na Du — had a lifelong psychiatric disorder.

Months before his death he'd been arrested outside a Richmond casino for kicking down garbage cans and displaying homicidal thoughts.

The inquest heard Du was addicted to gambling and had been banned by Lower Mainland casinos.

"He was very angry, he was upset. He entered into several altercations after he lost money," Du's psychiatrist, Dr. Soma Ganesan, told reporters. "He feel regret, he feel guilty about that. But he had no ability to control his behaviour."

Ganesan testified Du was a "nice" guy but was prone to losing his temper.

His sister, Lien Chan, said through a Cantonese translator that Du had struggled with schizophrenia since 1988 but regularly took medication to control hallucinations and hearing voices. He lived with their mother until his death.

The sister of Tony Du attended a rally at Vancouver police headquarters in 2017. (CBC )

It wasn't unusual, she said, for police to respond if he was making a lot of noise and neighbours reported him.

Chan says after the incident her family never heard anything from police victim services.

Advocates call for more police training

Klyne also testified after the incident that he told the investigators if he hadn't called 911 Du would have just kept walking around the block.

People in the area might have been alarmed, Klyne said, but he wasn't threatening anyone.

Pivot Legal Society representatives say living with mental illness shouldn't be a death sentence and systemic changes are needed to properly train police to respond to mental health-related calls.

"I would hope to see that there would be much more communication involved and much more time taken in resolving a situation like this," said Pivot's Camia Weaver. "And that the proper tools are used which would not include lethal weapons."

Ganesan agreed communication needs to improve. He said any information he received about Du's police interactions or gambling troubles had to come from the man himself.

Du was 18 when he came to Canada from Vietnam with his refugee family in 1980.

The inquest is scheduled to hear witnesses for the rest of the week.

Vancouver police officers are scheduled to testify Tuesday.