Family of a Maple Ridge man killed by police during a wellness check more than a year ago now are speaking out about delays in the investigation.
Kyaw Naing Din was killed by a Ridge Meadows RCMP officer on Aug. 11 of 2019, and his siblings are upset with what they call silence and misinformation from the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency charged with investigating the 54-year-old man’s death.
Kway siblings spoke out during a press conference on Friday in Coquitlam.
“It has been over a year and we still don’t know who killed our brother,” the family said. They issued a public statement, in keeping with the comments they’ve shared at a few Justice 4 Kway rallies held in Memorial Peace Park since his death.
Shortly after his death, His sister, Yin Yin Din share her recollections of the ordeal with The News.
Her brother, Kyaw, was schizophrenia, she explained.
The Burmese man had health issues, and had been checked in – sometimes voluntarily – to hospital. That evening, she called 9-1-1 and reported that Kway wasn’t feeling well. She had called several times in past for aid in convincing Kway to come out of his room and voluntarily go to hospital, and received help.
This time, however, something went horribly wrong, she said. Her brother ended up shot and killed in a police-involved shooting in their rental home on Colemore Street in Maple Ridge.
The siblings allege the Ridge Meadows police officers involved in Kyaw’s death failed to follow “proper police procedures, they did not communicate with him at all.”
They’re claiming he was “brutally shot” three times in his face, head, throat, and chest while sitting unarmed and quiet in a chair next to his bed.
An IIO press release at the time of the incident said the deceased had a knife.
“This incident happened not because of the lack of training of the police officers,” the family stated Friday. “When Yin Yin repeatedly requested them not to enter Kyaw’s bedroom, but to wait for the arrival of Kyaw’s three older siblings, they replied, ‘We don’t need to wait for their arrival as we know how to handle people with mental health issues, like your brother. We deal with them all the time’.”
Since his death, the family claim they’ve been told repeatedly by Ridge Meadows RCMP to wait for results from the IIO investigation. And likewise, they’re critical of the IIO and what they called a lack of information forthcoming from those who serve on the independent review agency.
As recently as July, the family held another rally in the park again, vocal that the review process was taking too long. They received assurances from IIO that the investigation – at that time – was close to completion.
“The IIO has promised, and failed, to provide Kyaw Din’s family on multiple occasions, most recently promising that a decision would be released by Aug. 11, 2020 – the anniversary of Kyaw Din’s death. The wait, for the Din family, has been agonizing,” said Cecile Revaux, of the Red Braid Alliance, who helped organize the press conference at the home of another of Kway’s sisters, Hla Myaing, and who has been involved in organizing the local rallies.
“It has been over a year and we still don’t know who killed our brother,” Yin Yin said. “If it was a police officer who was killed, the killer’s name would be released right away, not covered up and kept secret.”
Revaux spoke on behalf of the Din family, saying they believe their brother was “killed because of systemic discrimination against people with mental health illnesses, and because he was a low-income immigrant and person of colour.”
Ronald MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the IIO, told The News last month once he has received a written report, he will meet with the investigative team, and he alone will decide whether to refer the matter for consideration of criminal charges.
He explained, however, that the investigation had been delayed in part due to COVID.