Coroner’s inquest calls for more Vancouver police training after fatal shooting

The Canadian Press
November 09, 2018
By The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — More de-escalation training for Vancouver police is being recommended after a coroner’s inquest into the shooting death of a man who was stabbing people on the city’s Downtown Eastside.

Police say 26-year-old Abdi Hirsi, who was from Edmonton, was killed during a confronta-tion with an officer in 2015, after he stabbed three people.

In a statement at the time, the department said officers unsuccessfully tried to arrest the man and fired multiple bean bag rounds in an attempt to control him, then shot him when he started to stab a woman who was taken to hospital in critical condition.

In its inquest verdict, the coroner’s jury says the police department should consider better communications training for officers in high-stress situations, and review its existing de-escalation policies.

It recommends mandatory training for officers in the use of at least one less-lethal use-of-force tool beyond what is taught in basic training, and annually reviewing those options.

It also suggests requiring all police vehicles to have cameras and that officers wear body cameras.

The coroner ruled Hirsi died of internal injuries caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

The inquest jury is also recommending that the BC Ambulance Service review its policy defining the circumstances in which paramedics may determine ``obvious death” and not provide medical interventions.

The jury also notes that the chief coroner should hold inquests within one year of an in-vestigation concluding to ensure accuracy of recollections and closure for families.


Pot eating Toronto cop a ‘complete idiot,’ judge says after guilty plea

TORONTO — A Toronto police officer who stole and ate a marijuana-laced chocolate bar seized during a pot-shop raid was a “complete idiot” for tampering with evidence, a judge said as the man pleaded guilty in the case.

Vittorio Dominelli, a 36-year-old constable who resigned from the force this week, pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice in connection with the January incident.

Justice Mary Misener, who presided over the case, said Dominelli’s actions were on the low end of the spectrum when it came to evidence tampering, but were nonetheless sig-nificant.

“From the point of view of public interest, the impact is profound,” she said. “The conduct here you cannot describe as anything other than stupid ... He was just a complete idiot.”

Misener added that the fact that Dominelli had taken a marijuana-infused item was not the issue.

“He might have taken cough syrup or a pair of woolly comfortable socks that he wanted to try on his feet,” she said. “It’s interfering with evidence.”

Dominelli, the son of a longtime Toronto officer and a father of three, was part of a team that raided an illegal marijuana dispensary around 5 p.m. on Jan. 27, according to an agreed statement of facts read out in court by Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter.

The officer, armed and dressed in plainclothes, agreed to go get pizza for the squad as they were going through the pot shop, court heard. While walking out of the store, Dominelli saw several cannabis-oil-infused chocolate bars, which he pocketed.

He and his partner, Const. Jamie Young, went to a nearby pizza place where Dominelli be-gan to have second thoughts about taking the chocolate bars, Perlmutter said.

Dominelli told Young about his reservations and wanted to leave the bars at the pizza place but his partner disagreed with his idea, court heard.

After the raid was concluded around 11 p.m., Dominelli and Young were re-assigned to conduct surveillance on an after-hours bar, court heard. Dominelli then spoke about the then-looming legalization of recreational marijuana and the pair chatted about how nei-ther had tried cannabis, court heard.

“He assumed it would be a minor mellow feeling,” Perlmutter said, reading from the agreed statement of facts. “He did not think consuming a small amount would impair each officer.”

The pair consumed all eight squares of one chocolate bar while on their surveillance mis-sion and became “seriously intoxicated,” court heard.

Young has been charged with attempting to obstruct justice and breach of trust, but the allegations against her have not been proven in court.

Dominelli said he initially didn’t feel anything but after about 20 minutes, the effects of the chocolate hit him “like a ton of bricks,” court heard.

“He was sweating heavily and believed he was going to pass out,” Perlmutter said.

Dominelli thought he was going to die, court heard. He asked his partner to radio for help, but she refused. The officer eventually grabbed the radio from his partner, ran up the street and called for help.

“Send an ambulance,” a breathless Dominelli tells the dispatcher on the call, which was played in court.

When questioned by the dispatcher, Dominelli is heard saying he’s going to pass out.

“Are you injured? Did anything happen?” the dispatcher asks.

“I’m just lightheaded,” Dominelli says.

When other officers rushed to the scene one of them slipped on ice and suffered a severe head injury, court heard. That officer still has “significant difficulties with speech and vi-sion,” and remains off work 10 months later.

Court also heard that seven people were charged in the pot-shop raids, but those charges were dropped due to Dominelli’s actions.

Peter Brauti, Dominelli’s lawyer, told court his client is remorseful and ashamed.

“It was an act of utter stupidity,” Brauti said. “He has done everything he can to show re-morse and make reparation for what he’s done.”

Dominelli offered to resign within weeks of the incident, the lawyer said. He is also de-pressed, shakes when he speaks and cries when talking about the incident, Brauti said.

Dominelli apologized to the court, the police and his family.

“To my wife and children, I turned our lives upside down,” he wrote in documents filed with court. “I messed up, I really did.”

The Crown is proposing a conditional sentence for Dominelli to be served in the communi-ty while the defence is arguing for a conditional discharge. A charge of breach of trust was withdrawn.

The judge will decide Dominelli’s sentence at a later date.

- Liam Casey

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018

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