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Coroner's inquest advises officials to 'respect the body'

The scene of the police-involved shooting of Brendon Beddow (below) in Crescent Beach in 2011. - File photo
The scene of the police-involved shooting of Brendon Beddow (below) in Crescent Beach in 2011.
— image credit: File photo

For the second time in less than a month, an inquest jury has recommended police cars be equipped with video recording equipment.

The latest recommendation – in addition to nine others that include "respect(ing) the body" after death, longer hospitalization following suicide attempts and smaller fire-rescue vehicles –  was made Wednesday evening, following the coroner's inquest into the March 23, 2011 death of Brendon Samuel Beddow.

Beddow, 23, was fatally shot by by police in Crescent Beach that afternoon, by officers dispatched to a domestic disturbance in the 3000-block of McBride Avenue. When they arrived at the scene, Beddow had a gun in his hand that, despite repeated orders, he refused to drop, the inquest heard.

The video suggestion was among 10 put forward by the five-member jury following the testimony of 19 witnesses, including a woman identified only as Beddow's girlfriend; police, fire and ambulance personnel; medical professionals; and Beddow's mother.

The jury classified Beddow's death as a homicide and determined he died as a result of a gunshot to the chest.

Inquest counsel Rod MacKenzie told Peace Arch News Thursday that experts had described the injury as "catastrophic."

"The bullet went right through his heart," he said.

Brendon Beddow

And while the jury also recommended that an injured individual's restraints be adjusted or removed so as not to impede medical attention – Beddow was apparently handcuffed after he was shot and remained that way, even after he died – MacKenzie said testimony heard this week suggested the move would not have changed the outcome in Beddow's case.

"The suggestion was he would not have survived regardless," he said. "They had probably the highest-qualified paramedic in British Columbia that showed up… and he was unable to do anything.

"My view of the evidence is it was not contributory to the death."

MacKenzie said other details disclosed over the course of the three days included that the gun Beddow was waving at police had no bullets in it, and that tests determined Beddow had both cocaine and heroin in his system at the time.

"In (expert witness) testimony there really was an explanation as to the way he was acting that day," MacKenzie said.

In addition to surveillance equipment in patrol cars, the jury recommended:

• that RCMP and municipal police implement a policy to have unimpeded access of emergency vehicles to a crime scene "within a reasonable time";

• that annual weapons training recertification be mandatory for police;

• that RCMP dispatch have an algorithm similar to BC Ambulance Service dispatch, "that supports timely decision-making for decisions to be made to support field agents";

• implementation of critical incident, high-intensity simulator and first aid training every three years during police block training;

• that once a scene is secure, personnel consider adjusting or removing an injured individual's restraints so as not to impede medical attention; and "respect the body once the body is pronounced dead" by removing restraints before transportation;

• some kind of video/voice recording on each members' person to help maintain the integrity and evidence at the crime scene;

• that the BCAS ensure communities have proper advanced life support (ALS) coverage based on population and graphics;

• that Surrey have smaller fire rescue vehicles to ensure communities have proper coverage based on population and graphics;

• and, that anyone who has been admitted to hospital due to drug abuse or a suicide attempt be offered a week in hospital and, based on a doctor's recommendation, make admission to a 30-day rehabilitation program available to the person, with weekly follow-up as directed by a medical professional.

Last month, the jury in an inquest into the police-shooting death of 28-year-old Adam Purdie in Surrey recommended that active RCMP patrol cars be equipped with dash cameras.

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