Police didn’t identify themselves, nor did they tell a Maple Ridge man that they were entering his room to apprehend him, before opening his bedroom door, tasering, and fatally shooting him during a mental health call in 2019.
That is the testimony of Corporal Shayne Shea on day three of a coroner’s inquest into the shooting death of Kyaw Naing Din on Aug. 11, 2019.
Kyaw, an immigrant from Myanmar, was 54 when he was killed in the family home he shared with his siblings on Colemore Street. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and was frequently taken to hospital by police.
Shea, who started with the Ridge Meadows RCMP in February 2016 and spent four years there before being transferred to Hope, said all police were doing was trying to get Kyaw medical help.
The Din family lawyer, Neil Chantler, asked him during the inquest if police made any attempt to speak to Kyaw before entering the room, while the door was closed.
Shea confirmed that police did not identify themselves, they did not advise him that he was going to be apprehended, nor that they were planning on entering the room, before doing so that day.
Shea was also asked what medical facts did he rely on, not to simply leave Kyaw in his room.
“Why couldn’t you leave him in his room for a bit longer,” he asked.
“We just didn’t,” Shea replied.
When he was asked if in hindsight that was the correct decision to make, Shea said that it was because they were going to enter the room at some point.
“We chose to enter at that point,” he said.
A police officer who was first on the scene testified earlier that he believed if officers had waited any longer to enter the room, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Const. Daniel Losiak, a two-year member of the Ridge Meadows RCMP in 2019, was asked pointedly by Chantler, about why police didn’t wait for other family members to arrive before police entered Kyaw’s room. They had been told by Kyaw’s sister, Yin Yin Din, that a sister and two brothers were on their way to help with the situation.
Losiak had testified that the call had dragged on for more than one hour. However, Chantler pointed out he arrived at the Din house at 1:34 p.m. and shots were fired by “at least” 2:18 p.m..
“More time might have assisted in this situation, wouldn’t it?” asked Chantler, to which Losiak replied, “I don’t believe so.”
“You don’t believe it was valuable to wait and allow the family to arrive and speak to him and allow him, to perhaps, calm down?” pressed Chantler.
Losiak replied that waiting additional time wouldn’t have improved the situation.
“It was clear he wasn’t recognizing his sister and likely wouldn’t recognize another individual, had they arrived on scene,” he said. “It seemed as time was going on he was, in fact, becoming more and more uncooperative.”
When Chantler suggested police had run out of patience, Losiak replied that was not the case.
“We do give time if we feel that a person may, you know, become cooperative even if they’re not initially,” he explained. But, he said, Kyaw was not going to cooperate from the start.
Losiak, said he was was the primary officer who responded to the 9-1-1 call made by Yin Yin Din. He said he was first on scene and had made the first contact with Din, although Din testified on day one of the inquest that a Const. Matthew Wagner was first on scene and the police officer she first talked to.
The initial call, he said, came in as a domestic in progress. When Const. Losiak arrived on scene, he said, he was by himself and met Din at the front door and received the inital information that her brother was schizophrenic and he was not recognizing her as his sister, that he threatened to harm her, but that he wanted to go to hospital. He said quite quickly he asked for paramedics to attend the scene.
He said Const. Wagner was on scene minutes after his own arrival and was the second officer on scene.
Losiak described Kyaw’s tone through the door when he was informed by his sister that paramedics were on their way to take him to hospital as “quite agitated, angry,” and “not calm by any means.”
He said police made multiple attempts to approach Kyaw’s bedroom door either with Din or with paramedics “to try to reason with him and deescalate the situation,” because, he said, he was getting quite upset.
And, he said, he was constantly doing a risk assesment because safety was a concern for everybody. He said he began asking Din about Kyaw’s access to weapons and that Din mentioned a jar that he might throw. And that Kyaw did carry around a small knife used for preparing food but that she wasn’t sure if he had that knife on him at that moment.
He said that he then consulted with Const. Wagner and they decided to call for a superviser or a corporal to be on scene as well as a conducted energy weapon, commonly known as a taser, in case it was needed.
However, Losiak said, even prior to the call for a supervisor on scene, they had already decided that Kyaw would be, “apprehended under section 28 of the Mental Health Act” because of his “deterioirating mental health,” the fact that he hadn’t been on his medication, and, he cited, the potential danger he posed to himself and others in the residence.
The inquest heard from Kyaw’s sister on day one of the inquest, when the initial 9-1-1 call she made for help was played.
She testified that her brother Kyaw was sitting “peacefully, quietly” in a chair by his bed and that she had called her siblings for help, who were on their way to the house when police entered the room and fatally shot Kyaw.
Din claimed she never saw a plastic weight that police say was thrown from her brother’s room prior to the shooting.
The Din family lawyer asked her, after seeing a photo clearly showing a weight lying in the hallway, would she have seen a weight travel out of the bedroom, if it had.
“If it was thrown, I would have seen it,” she replied.
The Independent Investigations Office released a report in September 2020, saying that police officers were justified in using force, and the office did not recommend criminal charges against the RCMP officer who shot and killed Kyaw.
Presiding coroner Donita Kuzma and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding the death. The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances, but not to make any finding of legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law.
Under the Coroners Act, inquests are mandatory when a person dies while detained by, or in the custody of, a peace officer.
An inquest is a formal process that allows public presentation of evidence relating to a death. The jury will certify the identity of the deceased and how, where, when and by what means death occurred. The inquest is open to the public.
The inquest, that is scheduled to continue until Friday, Mar. 7, will also be hearing from Const. Benjamin Ouellette and Const. Matthew Wagner.
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