The family of a mentally ill man killed in an officer-involved shooting in Maple Ridge two months ago held a rally Saturday against police brutality.
Kyaw Din was shot in a dispute with Ride Meadows RCMP officers who were called to his home on Aug. 11 to check on his well-being.
B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), is continuing to investigate the incident.
The 54-year-old Burmese immigrant had a history of schizophrenia, his family says, and had barricaded himself in his bedroom when officers arrived.
Police had been called by Din’s siblings, who attended Saturday’s rally held by members of Alliance Against Displacement.
Din’s sister Yin Yin told the crowd at Memorial Peace Park that 911 calls to take her brother to hospital were nothing new for the family, and that police often responded to those calls and acted properly.
But on that day, Din didn’t want to go, and Yin Yin told police to wait.
“The police told me not to worry,” she said. “They told me, ‘I won’t shoot your brother.’ They told me this in a loving voice. They promised and I trusted them. Then I heard, ‘bang bang bang!'”
Yin Yin said police lied when they reported Din had a knife and threw a weight at officers when they tried to open the bedroom door. When she tried to confront police after hearing the shots, she said she was told to wait outside.
“We were not allowed into the house, we were not allowed inside to see what happened to Kyaw,” she said. “We were kept outside until 1 a.m.”
Other siblings who spoke said Din was a kind and generous person who did not deserve to be killed the way he was.
“Our mother always said Kyaw was the best brother,” Din’s eldest sister Hla Myaing said. “For me as well. But the police shot him, then hid away. This is the greatest loss. We need justice for our brother.”
The Din family is calling for the officers responsible to be charged with murder, and for Ridge Meadows RCMP officer-in-charge Jennifer Hyland to be fired.
But the rally also aimed to bring attention to the danger posed when police answer mental health calls, and what supporters call a pattern of police harassment of marginalized people.
Alliance Against Displacement has raised the issue before when speaking in support of homeless camps or “tent cities” around the Lower Mainland, including Anita Place in Maple Ridge.
Tana, a leader from Anita Place, said police often treat the homeless and immigrants as “undesirable.”
“We are considered beneath police assistance and undeserving of it,” she told the crowd. “But everyone is part of society, whether that is recognized or not.”
Organizer Listen Chen with Alliance Against Displacement said it’s up to police to remember they represent everyone in society.
“Who is kept out of the idea of ‘the public?'” Chen asked. “Who is the public the police protect, and who do cops dole out violence against to keep them out of the public?
“We’re here to call for accountability and justice for Kyaw Din, but we’re also here to look forward to a future without police violence.”
Ridge Meadows RCMP would not comment on the case surrounding the death of Kyaw Din.
—With files from Jill Bennett