WATCH (above): As the jury at a coroner’s inquest into a police-involved shooting returns with recommendations, we are hearing part of the 911 call for the first time in newly released police tapes from that fatal night. Rumina Daya reports.
The jury at the coroner’s inquest for a man fatally shot by police almost two years ago took only two hours to deliberate and present their recommendations.
The death of 52-year-old Christopher Ray following a confrontation with Vancouver police in 2012 was ruled a homicide, and not suicide-by-cop earlier today.
The coroner’s jury also made three recommendations with one key point made pertaining to the Vancouver Police Department reviewing its policy regarding communication between officers on the scene.
In October 2012, it started with 911 calls about a man smashing the windows of a building on Hastings Street, west of Boundary with a rock. The first officer on the scene, Cst. Kaltenbach ordered Ray, who was a homeless man struggling with addiction and mental health issues, to drop a knife in his hand. When Ray did not, the situation escalated quickly.
On the stand on Monday, Kaltenbach said when Ray was about 25 to 30 feet away, he drew his firearm and repeatedly told him to stay back. When Ray kept advancing, the officer fired at the man when he was about six feet away.
The deadly incident took less than a minute and a half. Kaltenbach was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the Independent Investigations Office.
A newly released tape of the conversation between Kaltenbach and the police dispatcher was released and it showed that a second officer with a police canine, Cst. Wong, was also sent to the scene. Neither constables knew the other was there at the incident.
As the condensed transcript below shows, Cst. Wong was around the rear of the building looking for signs of mischief when shots were fired.
“Yeah, I think I’ve got that male from 405 on view, just at the back of the building…”
“…he’s, ah, pounding on a car window and asking me to come over here…”
“…how far off is the next unit?”
“Carrying something in his hand and asking me to come over here now.”
“Copy 6-2, he’s got something in his hand and he’s asking you to come over.”
“And 6-2 might as well make it hurry up.”
“Copy 7-1 how far out are you?”
“I’m on foot in the back here now…
“Shots fired 2-0-7-1”
“Copy that, shots fired…”
It was that misunderstanding that Rod MacKenzie, Coroner’s Inquest Counsel, is questioning.
“One of the police officers that attended wasn’t aware that the other police officer was also attending,” MacKenzie told Global News. “And drove past him and didn’t understand he was at the same call.”
Ray, who was born in Toronto and lived in the U.S., was in the army when he got introduced to drugs and then spent years in and out of recovery. When he wasn’t high on drugs, people described him as a neighbourhood helper who loved animals, his daughter and grandson, who lived in the states.
At the inquest his sister Patrice Ray submitted a statement to the jury where she said, “I hope and pray that something good will come out of Chris’s death. I hope that law enforcement will become more educated and trained in the area of dealing with the homeless, particularly those who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”
Although the jury made three recommendations, they are not binding. But the hope would be the recommendations would be looked at seriously and implemented by the VPD in order to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
~ with files from Rumina Daya and Yuliya Talmazan
READ: Complete document of the coroner’s inquest recommendations: