Vancouver police shooting of Vietnamese immigrant results in no criminal charges

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      In November 2014, Du Na Phuong (Tony) was killed in an encounter with Vancouver police at the corner of Knight Street and East 41st Avenue.

      According to a witness, Kieran Fogarty, the Vietnamese immigrant was striking a fence with a two-by-four.

      Du, a 51-year-old with a history of mental illness, was killed less than two minutes after Vancouver police had arrived on the scene.

      Following Du's death, police issued a statement saying "less-lethal bean bag rounds" were deployed "in an attempt to disarm him and take him safely into custody, but eventually the man was shot".

      Vietnamese Canadian youths held a vigil the following month for Du, whom they described as "distraught".

      “We are deeply disturbed by the circumstances of Mr. Phuong's death and the actions of the Vancouver Police Department," spokesperson Chanel Ly said at the time. "We also are concerned about many issues within our community, such as violence, mental health, the lack of dialogue, racism, and police brutality. This event will pay respect to Du Na Phuong and initiate a conversation about the accountability that needs to be taken for the safety of our Vietnamese families and friends."

      Today, the criminal justice branch in the Ministry of Justice announced that no criminal charges were going to be laid against any police officers.

      In a statement accompanying a news release, the branch stated when police arrived, "the suspect pointed the 2x4 at them in an apparently threatening manner".

      The man did not comply with police instructions to drop the piece of wood and "began moving towards the officers".

      The bean-bag shots did not deter him, according to the criminal justice branch, so a second officer fired three gunshots at him.

      "Estimates varied but the suspect may have come within as little as three to four feet or as much as six to eight feet of the officers" before the pistol fire occurred.

      Kieran Fogarty witnessed the death of Phuang Na Du.
      Travis Lupick

      After he was shot and on the ground, police handcuffed him. He was rushed to hospital where he died during surgery.

      "For the use of lethal force by a peace officer to be justified, the peace officer must have a subjective belief that lethal force is necessary to protect the peace officer or anyone under his protection from death or grievous bodily harm and the police officer's subjective belief must be objectively reasonable," the criminal justice branch stated.

      The unnamed officer who used lethal force stated that the suspect was "goal-oriented" to attack the other officer, raising the two-by-four "in a manner similar to an axe when chopping wood". The officer also expressed a concern that if they continued backing up, they could have left civilians in the area exposed to an attack.

      The criminal justice branch concluded that if there were a trial, the officer's use of a firearm would have been deemed "objectively reasonable". Therefore, the branch stated that it was justified under self-defence provisions in the Criminal Code.

      "There is no substantial likelihood of conviction with respect to the offences of murder, manslaughter, or any other potential charges relating to the police use of force in this incident, such as charges[of]  assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm."