The RCMP have agreed to additional training and mentoring for four members of the Ridge Meadows detachment after an independent government agency found the police officers acted “unreasonably” during a response to a 2019 mental health call during which a Maple Ridge man was shot and killed.
Cpl. Shayne Shea, Const. Dan Losiak, Const. Ben Ouellette, and Const. Matt Wagner will be given future mentoring or training in on-scene communication between officers and for police response to mental health emergencies. This comes after the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP released their final report into the RCMP’s handling of complaints made by Yin Yin Din about the death of her brother Kyaw Naing Maung, also known as Kyaw Din.
Chaired by Michelaine Lahaie, the commission, an independent federal agency tasked with reviewing complaints made by the public against the RCMP, stated they are “not satisfied” with the RCMP’s report into Maung’s death.
The commission said the police agency itself “acted unreasonably when it issued a notice of direction to Din on Sept. 8, 2020, ending an RCMP investigation into her complaint about the use of force by their members, the level of communication, and Din’s accusations that officers on scene fabricated evidence. In the notice Chief Supt. Maureen Levy, assistant district commander and operations officer for the RCMP Lower Mainland District, cited the ongoing Independent Investigations Office review of the police shooting as the reason.
“This was a puzzling decision made under puzzling circumstances,” read the commission’s report.
Maung was 54 when he was shot by police in the family home he shared with his siblings on Colemore Street in 2019. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and was frequently taken by police to hospital. This time, however, he wouldn’t go, and his sister, Din, called police for help, ultimately leading to the fatal confrontation.
The commission’s report said the four officers failed to communicate appropriately with each other and “maintain situational awareness.” It also said they failed to try and de-escalate the situation before they entered Maung’s bedroom, using “surprise and force to subdue him.”
“While the specific circumstances where Ms. Din’s brother tried to attack an RCMP member with a knife meant that it was not unreasonable to use lethal force, the RCMP members’ unreasonable conduct meant that the decision to burst into the bedroom in the first place was also unreasonable,” the report stated.
Din accused police of failing to communicate properly with her brother, who did not speak English, of using unreasonable force, and of fabricating evidence to make it appear that her brother was violent. She also complained to the commission that she heard an officer laughing inappropriately after the shooting.
After reviewing the police file into the original incident, the final report from the Independent Investigations Office of BC, the complaint made by Din, the RCMP’s investigation into her complaint, Din’s review requests and submissions, and relevant law and policies, the commission made a number of conclusions and recommendations, including the training for the officers who were involved in the shooting.
In addition, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who recently announced her retirement, said the agency will continue to expand programs that pair RCMP members with trained mental health professionals or “otherwise shift to a healthcare-oriented response to mental health crises.”
However the RCMP did not agree with other findings by made by the commission, including the recommendation that the police agency amend a policy so RCMP members avoid shouting commands at individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The report stated that while the RCMP Commissioner did agree that shouting should be avoided when possible, that there were exceptions when it is necessary like at a loud music festival or busy highway. She also indicated that shouting could be a useful tool to get a person to follow police directions instead of members using physical force.
The commission replied that the recommendation was made in general terms in order to leave room for RCMP policy centres, the RCMP Commissioner and her advisors to develop concrete policy, “that reflected the intention of the recommendation while accounting for operational realities and the use of discretion.”
“It should go without saying that the Commission’s recommendation was not meant to prevent RCMP members from using a loud voice in a noisy environment, nor from ever shouting commands as a resort to using physical force,” the commission stated in the report.
As for Din’s other accusations, the commission found the four officers did not fabricate evidence at the scene. Neither was there any basis to conclude that another officer, Const. David Jung, laughed disrespectfully.
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