No charges after police shoot, kill mentally ill man wielding 2x4
Published Thursday, February 9, 2017 4:58PM PST
Last Updated Saturday, February 11, 2017 6:24PM PST
The Vancouver police officer who shot and killed a man suffering an apparent mental health episode two years ago will not face charges, authorities announced Thursday.
After a thorough review, the Criminal Justice Branch determined a trial would likely find the unnamed officer's use of deadly force against 51-year-old Tony Du was justified.
"The available evidence does not meet the CJB's charge assessment standard for approval of any charges in connection with the incident," spokesman Dan McLaughlin said in a statement.
Du was shot in the intersection of Knight Street and 41st Avenue on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014, after police received reports of an agitated man yelling and waving a 2x4 in the area.
Two officers responded and confronted Du, who allegedly pointed the piece of wood at them and refused to put it down.
Witnesses said Du, who suffered from schizophrenia, then advanced on one of the officers, who tried to slow him down by firing beanbag rounds at his stomach.
"The suspect was undeterred by the beanbag shots and the officers’ verbal commands and continued to advance with the 2x4," according to the Criminal Justice Branch's summary of the incident.
The other officer then shot his pistol three times in Du's direction. Two of the bullets struck him in his torso.
Though he was rushed to hospital, Du succumbed to his injuries during surgery the same evening.
B.C.'s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, spent nearly two years probing the deadly confrontation and forwarded a report to Crown for potential charges last September.
Though prosecutors have decided not to pursue a case against police, a legal advocacy group said it plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Du's family.
"The IIO investigation revealed Tony Du was shot by an officer between 18 – 25 seconds after police arrived," Douglas King, a lawyer for Pivot Legal Society, said in a news release.
“The investigation leaves us with a lot of questions on why officers so quickly resorted to deadly force on a man in mental health crisis, who witnesses reported was not presenting as a threat.”
The Criminal Justice Branch’s summary does not indicate how long it took for officers to open fire, but cites dispatch records showing police arrived at the scene just before 4:51 p.m. and called in the shooting just after 4:52.
Pivot noted the report lacks a description or photograph of the 2x4 Du was carrying, information that could be relevant in determining how much of a potential threat he posed.
It’s also missing a description of the de-escalation training the officers involved in the incident had received, and whether it was followed the night of the shooting, according to the advocacy group.
Du's history of mental illness dates back to the late 1980s, and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder in 1999.
His family said he was never violent, however, despite sometimes being known to yell.
Pivot said the deceased's sister, Lien Chan, was distraught after learning of the Crown's decision not to charge either officer.