The man shot and killed by a Williams Lake RCMP officer on August 13th has been identified as 43 year-old Donald Dwayne Lewis. Mr. Lewis is at least the 23rd person to die at the hands of BC police since May of 2002.

His family now faces an interminable delay as they wait for answers. The police themselves will investigate the incident. Many months later, they will provide their investigative report to Crown Counsel and to the Coroner. Many months after that, perhaps years, the Coroner will get around to holding the mandatory inquest. This process is inhumane and unfair to the victims’ families. Coroners’ delays were the subject of an editorial in The Province newspaper yesterday.

Cameron Ward will be speaking on this subject on CKNW, AM980 on Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 3:00 p.m.


The other 22 deaths:

The following list of people who have died while in police detention or custody in B.C. since May of 2002 has been gleaned from media accounts. Many of the media accounts are based on information provided by police. This list does not include deaths occurring in jail from natural causes or suicide. It may not be exhaustive, as some incidents may not have been reported in the press or may otherwise have escaped our attention.
1. Benny Matson; May 2002, Vancouver
Matson knocked over a motorcycle, was pursued and kicked in the head by one or more VPD officers. A coroners inquest was held and an OPCC complaint was dismissed.

2. John MacKay; July 2002, Vancouver
Mackay died in the Vancouver Jail of “blunt trauma injuries suffered from falling over and striking his head.”

3. Christopher Eklund; August 2002, Vancouver
Eklund “died accidentally after a struggle with Vancouver police” when his “heart stopped as a result of neck compression”.

4. Tom Stevenson; December 2002, Vancouver
Stevenson was sitting in a stolen vehicle the VPD had disabled. Two VPD members approached the vehicle. After Stevenson ignored their commands to get out, the police fired six shots into the vehicle, killing Stevenson instantly. At the coroner’s inquest, police stated that Stevenson had reached for a plastic gun. The plastic gun was photographed lying outside the vehicle near the left rear wheel. An inquest determined the death to be a homicide and the jury’s recommendations included a recommendation that the police not be allowed to investigate themselves. A civil suit is pending.

5. Lorraine Moon; February 2003, Cormorant Island
Moon was “brandishing a knife” when she was shot by an RCMP officer.

6. Terrence Hanna; April 2003, Burnaby
Hanna died after the RCMP shot him with a Taser, a “non-lethal” weapon that emits 50,000 volts of electricity and is designed to inflict excruciating pain and temporarily incapacitate the subject. (188 North Americans have died after being Tasered by police. No independent safety testing of Tasers has yet been done in Canada).

7. Keyvan Tabesh; July 2003, Port Moody
Tabesh was shot by plainsclothes Port Moody police after he had smashed a car window with a machete. An inquest was held.

8. Clay Willey; July 2003, Prince George
Willey died after Prince George RCMP repeatedly shot him with a Taser.

9. Joe Pagnotta; February 2004, Victoria
Pagnotta was shot by Victoria police after he “came at officers with a knife”.

10. Roman Andreichikov; May 2004, Vancouver
Andreichikov, unarmed, died after he was Tasered by VPD.

11. Robert Bagnell; June 2004 Vancouver
Bagnell, unarmed, was lying on his bathroom floor in medical distress when several VPD officers repeatedly shot him with a Taser. An inquest is set for September 5, 2006.

12. Majencio Camaso; July 2004, Saanich
Camaso was shot by Victoria police after he came at them with a pipe and crowbar. An inquest was held and an OPCC complaint filed.

13. Dean Andrusyk; September 2004, Vancouver
Andrusyk was shot by VPD officers when he “pulled a knife”.

14. Dwight Caron; November 2004, New Westminster
Caron died of trauma in the New Westminster jail.

15. Gerald Chenery; December 2004, Vancouver
Chenery was shot 12 times by two rookie VPD officers. David Eby represented the family at the inquest.

16. Kevin St. Arnaud; December 2004, Vanderhoof
St. Arnaud, unarmed, was shot three times by an RCMP officer while both were in a field. An inquest is to take place in 2007.

17. Unidentified man, 49, February 6, 2005, Vancouver
This Calgary man died after a “brief struggle” with the VPD.

18. Gurmeet Sandhu; June 2005, Surrey
Sandhu died after Surrey RCMP repeatedly shot him with a Taser. No inquest date has been set.

19. Stephen Hanaghan; June 2005, Kamloops. No inquest date has been set.

20. Kyle Tait; August 2005, New Westminster
Tait was one of five teenagers in a stolen car stopped by New Westminster police. Cst. Sweet fired three shots into the vehicle, one of which killed Tait. No inquest date has been set.

21. Ian Bush; October 2005, Houston
Bush, unarmed was shot in the head by an RCMP officer. The family’s lawyer is Howard Rubin. No inquest date has been set.

22. Ryan Snopek; January 1, 2006, Cranbrook
Snopek died from bleeding on the brain caused by a “crack in the skull”. No inquest date has been set.