Jury in Boyd inquest wants non-lethal weapons for cops
Bethany Lindsay, ctvbc.ca
Published Friday, December 17, 2010 5:46PM PST
A coroner's jury looking into the shooting death of a bipolar Vancouver man has recommended that all police officers be equipped with non-lethal weapons.
Paul Glenn Boyd was shot by police eight times on Aug. 13, 2007 when officers responded to reports of an assault on Granville Street. A coroner's inquest has heard that he was off his medication and swinging a bicycle chain at the time of the shooting.
In a verdict issued Friday, the inquest jury ruled that Boyd's death was a homicide, and recommended that all officers be provided with intermediate weapons like bean-bag guns and Tasers.
Boyd's father David called the recommendations "sensible and positive," and said that the provision of non-lethal weapons might have prevented his son's tragic death.
"That's something that would allow them to us their use of force continuum in an effective way and perhaps prevent them having to resort to lethal force quite so often," David Boyd said.
The jury also suggested that police undergo mandatory training for dealing with people suffering from mental health problems, and that Vancouver police and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority create a shared database cataloguing people with mental illnesses.
The ministry of health was urged in the verdict to create 24-hour walk-in clinics for the mentally ill.
David Boyd said that the drop-in system might work well for people like his son who don't respond well to hospitalization.
"It might help a lot of people," he said.
He added that the inquest process has been cathartic for him, as witness testimony shed light on the frantic few minutes before his son was killed.
"It's nice to know the details of that night," David Boyd said.
Two year's after Boyd's death, an investigation by the province's criminal justice branch cleared Const. Lee Chipperfield of criminal wrongdoing for the shooting.
Earlier this week, Chipperfield told the inquest that he began firing because Boyd was walking towards him, swinging his chain. Another officer testified that he took the chain away from Boyd in between shots, but Chipperfield said he didn't see that.
The officer testified that he was worried Boyd was going to attack him or someone else, and that police had run out of options.
Chipperfield said that he thought Boyd might have been wearing body armour because he kept advancing after each shot. He fired until Boyd stopped getting up.
A forensic pathologist testified that one of the most deadly shots to hit Boyd went through his left lower jaw, entered his chest and passed through his heart. He told the inquest the angle indicated that Boyd may not have been standing upright at the time, but later said he couldn't tell for sure.
The inquest also heard from two friends of Boyd, including his former employer. Both remembered the professional animator as a talented artist and kind person, but recalled episodes of paranoia in the year leading up to his death.