'We are very traumatized': Investigation finds use of force justified in fatal shooting of mentally ill man
VANCOUVER -- Warning: Some may find the photo included below showing a knife to be disturbing.
An investigation into the fatal shooting of a mentally ill Maple Ridge man by police has found officers were justified in their use of force. The family of 54-year-old Kyaw Din is now calling for a public inquiry.
Din’s sister Yin Yin told CTV News her family is shocked by the findings of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which looks into cases involving police-related incidents of death and serious injury.
“We are very traumatized, especially to hear IIO is not sending this file to the Crown,” Din’s sister said. “My brother was not violent. He liked the police.”
Din’s family has said the Maple Ridge man had schizophrenia, and the RCMP were called on Aug. 11, 2019 to help take him to the hospital, which had happened before.
The IIO’s investigation found Din wouldn’t leave his room, and when police entered, there was evidence Din threw a barbell weight out the door. A Taser was deployed, but only one probe connected with Din, rendering it ineffective. An officer told investigators Din came at him with a knife, and then following that, the fatal shots were fired.
Din’s sister disagrees with police and paramedic accounts of what happened.
“I was the eyewitness on that day, and I was just a few feet behind the police officers,” she said. “He was sitting in the chair, peacefully, with only a bottle in his hand.”
According to the IIO’s investigation, Din’s sister would not have had a clear view into his room at the time. Their report refers to her version of events as “significantly inconsistent...contradicted on a number of points by other witnesses and is seriously incompatible with the physical evidence."
The IIO’s chief civilian director, Ron MacDonald, said while he is sure the “emotion of the matter has played a role in those allegations, the objective evidence shows something very different.”
“It is not uncommon for witnesses to get things wrong,” MacDonald said. “It does happen that stories will change. The higher the level of emotion that goes along with a circumstance, the more likely that is to happen.”
Din’s sister believes her brother would still be alive if officers had listened to her requests to wait for other relatives to arrive, so they could talk to him. Din spoke Burmese, and only understood a little English.
MacDonald said their investigation found the officers' decision not to wait was reasonable.
“Waiting is problematic. It can cut both ways,” MacDonald said. “For the officers, one of the things they were concerned about is if they wait, what happens to the individual inside of the room? Will he do self harm?”
MacDonald added they also found the decision to proceed with entering the room was not negligent, because officers were not expecting to be attacked with a knife.
“There was never any suggestion that he had ever been violent with the knife, or would be violent with the knife,” MacDonald said. “This seemed to be a fairly routine situation where the police go in, pick the guy up, and take him out to the car or in this case the ambulance to get him to hospital, which happens time and again, that you never hear about. Unfortunately this one took a very tragic turn, and it’s understandable why the family is so upset.”
Din’s family is calling on the public to review the report and support their call for a public inquiry.
“Unless my brother’s file is sent to the Crown, we will not get justice,” Din’s sister said.