A coroner’s inquest into the shooting of a man outside a casino more than three years go has ended with 16 recommendations, several dealing with improving mental health services.
Mehrdad Bayrami, 48, was shot outside Starlight Casino in New Westminster in November 2012 after an hours-long standoff with police. He had accosted and confined his ex-girlfriend earlier in the day, subsequently letting her go, but was armed and refused to surrender to police.
Delta Police Const. Jordan MacWilliams, who was part of the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team (MIERT) at the time, was among more than two dozen officers on scene and shot Bayrami in the abdomen. Bayrami died 10 days later in hospital.
A week-long inquest by the B.C. Coroners Service began Feb. 9 into the incident, with 16 recommendations released by a jury this week.
They include suggestions that the Chief Coroner review public education to improve access to services and reduce stigma about mental health issues, as well as analyzing the effectiveness of bail conditions in preventing harm.
It was also recommended the director of B.C. Police Services establish and publish provincial standards for its ERTs (Emergency Response Teams), including required experience and qualifications of members, training and communication plan for dealing with affected family members. Also suggested was that police create a system to flag multiple files relating to a single person, “with a goal to initiate intervention as needed.”
The jury recommended the Minister of Health ensure family doctors have access to supportive services for patients, including psychological support, and that an accessible directory of early counselling support be created to improve support for people in distress.
Also suggested was that the Ministry of Education create curriculum addressing issues of mental health throughout the kindergarten to Grade 12 system.
Bayrami’s daughter told the inquest her father suffered from severe depression and said she likely could have helped talk him down.
The coroner’s inquest does not assign blame, but is tasked with making recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents.