Almost three years after the incident, the B.C. Coroners Service is calling an inquest to look into the death of Paul Boyd, who was shot eight times by a Vancouver police officer.
B.C. Civil Liberties Association president Robert Holmes and executive director David Eby were informed of the decision by chief coroner Diane Rothon during a meeting on June 22.
“The coroner advised us and we’re very glad to hear that there will be an inquest into the death of Paul Boyd, because there was a question about whether he was actually in custody when he was killed by police,” Eby told the Straight in a phone interview.
Boyd, a 39-year-old animator who struggled with bipolar disorder, was confronted by eight uniformed and plainclothes officers at Granville Street and West 16th Avenue on August 13, 2007, after several 911 calls.
“The VPD did their investigation over a period of about a year,” Eby recalled. “And then it sat at the Crown counsel’s office for another year before they finally decided that they weren’t going to pursue charges or lay charges.”
Rothon took office on April 1 of this year. She is only the second physician to head the death-investigation agency since the province’s first chief coroner, William McArthur, who held the position from 1979 to 1981. For almost 30 years, the agency was led by ex–police officers.
In their meeting with Rothon, Holmes and Eby also raised the matter of an inquest into the death of Curtis Brick, a homeless aboriginal man who died after lying in the sun for hours in East Vancouver’s Grandview Park on July 29, 2009. There have been suggestions that Brick didn’t receive proper care from responding firefighters and paramedics.
“They [the coroners service] asked us for some more information, including witness names and contact information,” Eby said. “We provided that to them. So it’s still an open file for them.”
First Nations activist Kat Norris is organizing an event at Grandview Park on July 29 to mark the first anniversary of Brick’s death.