A coroner’s inquest into the death of a man killed by police after he went on a violent rampage at an East Vancouver Canadian Tire heard tearful testimony Monday from a police officer he stabbed.
Vancouver police shot Daniel Rintoul nine times after he attacked a store clerk, took a customer hostage and finally attacked Const. Justin Fraser outside the Grandview Highway retailer in November, 2016.
On the stand, Fraser was visibly emotional, taking deep breaths between testimony as he relived the violent and tragic events of that day.
He told the hearing how he and his partner were the first officers to arrive at the scene, and how he put himself in between Rintoul and customers in the outlet’s parking lot.
Fraser described seeing Rintoul approach the store’s exit with a hostage, before the man deployed bear spray.
He testified that he heard his partner deploy a Taser, and saw Rintoul drop to the ground.
He then moved to try and take Rintoul into custody, but said it was a struggle given how big Rintoul was.
When he realized he’d been stabbed, Fraser told the hearing he called out, “Knife, knife, knife.”
“After being stabbed, I stepped back … fell over my back … I felt the suspect move with me and that’s when I felt the knife in my abdomen,” he testified.
“I stood up and drew my firearm and somehow managed to see the suspect starting to get up off the ground. As he was hopping up, I fired three rounds.”
Fraser told the hearing he made the decision to fire because didn’t know his partner’s condition but he knew someone was hurt inside the store and there were people in the parking lot.
The hearing heard he then radioed to dispatch that shots had been fired and he had been stabbed, and was able to holster his weapon.
He told the inquest how he heard Rintoul shouting at police to kill him, as other officers arrived and asked him if he was OK to be moved.
He testified that he said ‘No,’ but that other officers dragged him to a safe place when they heard additional shots fired.
Fraser suffered stab wounds to the stomach, shoulder and face, and the hearing heard he continues to struggle with the psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress syndrome, memory loss and sleep issues.
“My family has paid a huge price for this,“ he said through tears, adding his children “lost the dad that I was. It’s so not fair to them.”
B.C.’s civilian police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Officer, subsequently ruled that the actions of officers who responded the day of the incident were reasonable.
The hearing has also heard that several notes were located on Rintoul’s body after he was killed.
One of those notes read, “This is what happens when you give a man nothing to lose. I’d rather die than turn to crime to survive. Death before dishonor.”
The inquest’s jury has now recessed to deliberate.
Coroners’ inquests do not assign blame, but are designed to determine the facts of a death and make recommendations to help prevent similar deaths in the future.