Police should ensure officers have taken mandatory incident de-escalation training, inquest jury says

Coroner’s Inquest into 2015 fatal police shooting in Port Hardy concludes

Police should enforce the requirement that officers take mandatory de-escalation training, a coroner’s inquest jury has recommended.

That was one of seven recommendations made by the jury in a coroner’s inquest into the 2015 fatal shooting of James Reginald Butters (a.k.a. Hayward) at the hands of the RCMP in Port Hardy.

The inquest was looking into the shooting of Butters on July 8, 2015 in Port Hardy. Police had responded to an incident in Port Hardy near the BC Ambulance station and the Port Hardy Hospital. An Independent Investigation Officer report says that upon arrival, the RCMP officers attending encountered Butters who was wielding a knife. Butters moved towards the police and was shot. His immediate cause of death was stated by the Coroner’s Inquest to be multiple gun shot wounds.

The Corner’s Inquest was conducted by Lyn Blenkinsop and heard testimony over five days beginning on Aug. 20 and concluding Tuesday with the five-person jury retiring to deliberate on the testimony it heard. After approximately seven-and-a-half hours of deliberation Tuesday, the jury released its recommendations.

To the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Corrections Branch, the jury made five recommendations arising from this case:

  • Provide any necessary prescription medication related to the inmate’s safety and well-being at the time of their release.
  • Assume responsibility for arranging any forensic psychiatric assessments that are required in a probation order for inmates while they are incarcerated or immediately upon their release.
  • Provide training for probation officers to assist with their recognition and risk assessment of persons experiencing mental health symptoms.
  • Acquire the client’s probation file from any other province when the client moves into or returns to B.C.
  • Review the processes for ensuring a client’s continuity of care between correctional facilities, community corrections and community mental health services.

To the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Corrections Branch and Policing and Security Branch, the jury had one recommendation:

  • Prioritize any breach of probation by clients with diagnosed or known mental health and substance abuse issues.

The jury also had the recommendation for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Policing and Security Branch, that it require that mandatory de-escalation training (CID) be enforced for all members.

The recommendations relate to testimony that stated Butters was receiving mental health treatment during a period of incarceration at the Wilkinson Road jail in Victoria prior to the shooting and had been prescribed medication. The training the RCMP officers involved in the shooting had completed was also the subject of testimony during the hearing.

RELATED: Coroner’s inquest into fatal police shooting in Port Hardy begins in Campbell River

RELATED: VIDEO: Memorial bench unveiled for Vancouver Island man killed by police


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editor@campbellrivermirror.com

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