The BC Coroners Service has announced an inquest into the death of Phuong Na “Tony” Du, nearly three years after the 51-year-old was killed in a confrontation with Vancouver police.
Du, who had been diagnosed as schizophrenic in his 20s, was fatally shot at the intersection of Knight Street and 41st Avenue in Vancouver on Nov. 22, 2014
Police were called to the scene after reports that Du, who appeared to be in mental distress, was brandishing a two-by-four as he walked along the street.
Officers initially shot him with a bean bag round, before they deployed a firearm.
Du was transported to hospital, where he later died.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) determined that Du was shot 18 to 25 seconds after officers arrived on scene.
The officer who shot Du said he feared for the life of another officer at the scene.
The Criminal Justice Branch determined that there was not enough evidence to press charges against the officer involved.
WATCH: The cell phone video shot by Joe Tobias in the moments after the incident
The Pivot Legal Society had previously voiced concerns that key information was missing from the IIO’s probe.
The Vietnamese community has also expressed outrage with the outcome of the investigation, with some calling the VPD’s actions “excessive.”
Former Vancouver and Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham, who now sits on the board of the BC Schizophrenia Society, said the way police deal with mentally ill people in a distressed state has changed over the years.
“Police have always been called upon to intervene in situations where there can be a mental illness at play, someone acting up, someone involved in a manic episode,” Graham said.
“And kudos to the BC government. Years ago they mandated a series of sessions of Mental Health Act training which were mandatory for every officer in the province.”
The inquest is slated to begin in February 2018. That length of time is not excessive, according to Graham.
“There’s so many variables at play as to why things can be delayed, this thing gets studied and careful decisions are made by the coroner to hold these inquests.”
Coroners inquests are formal court proceedings that try to determine the facts of a person’s death.
They do not make findings of guilt or responsibility, or mete out punishment. However, they do make recommendations to try to prevent similar deaths from occurring in the future.
Du’s mother, Thu An Du, has also filed a lawsuit alleging police negligence in B.C. Supreme Court.
The lawsuit names the City of Vancouver and the police officer who used his firearm in the shooting.
-With files from Paula Baker and Ria Renouf