Portrait of the Williams family used in a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for the funeral of Shirley Williams and Jovan Williams. Shirley is wearing a white hat and Jovan is the taller of the two men. (File photo)

Granisle deaths inquest postponed because of COVID-19

Mother and son were shot in April 2016

  • Apr. 29, 2020 12:00 a.m.

The inquest into the deaths of a Granisle woman and her son has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scheduled to take place June 15 in Smithers, the inquest was called following the April 2016 police-involved shooting deaths of Shirley Beatrice Williams and her son, Jovan Christopher Williams.

It is not yet known on what date the inquest will now be held.

“On March 19, 2020, the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users, and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a release from the BC Coroners Service indicated last week.

A first suspension of all proceedings was to last until May 1 and as of April 16, the suspension period has been extended to May 29 and jury selections suspended until July 3.

That latter date is important as a inquest involves the participation of a jury.

An inquest involving a jury is mandatory for any death that occurs while a person was detained by, or in the custody of, a peace officer.

“The B.C. Coroners Service will arrange to reschedule the inquest once all COVID-19 public health measures are no longer required,” the release continued.

The inquest follows an investigation by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. which concluded an RCMP officer was forced to shoot first the son and then the mother during a stand off with police at their Granisle residence in April 2016.

Police were first called to the location following an altercation between the mother and son and local residents in which Jovan Williams produced a handgun.

An inquest jury must not make any finding of legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law but does certify the identity of the deceased and how, where, when and by what means death occurred.

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