Skip to main content

The jury at a coroner's inquest examining the police shooting death of a man on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has opted not to make any recommendations in the case.

Darrell Elroy Barnes died on July 22, 2011, at the age of 48.

Mr. Barnes was walking down a public street holding a machete when he was approached by Vancouver police. He ignored orders to drop the weapon and was hit by six beanbag rounds.

Mr. Barnes remained on his feet and then advanced on police, swinging the blade. Two officers fired their pistols and he was pronounced dead in hospital.

The inquest began Monday and testimony wrapped up one day later. The jury could not, by law, make findings of legal responsibility or assess blame. It could, however, make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

The jury chose not to make any recommendations at all.

As the inquest's presiding coroner had suggested, the jury classified the death as a homicide - a term that does not imply fault or blame.

The inquest heard that Mr. Barnes had been diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic, but he was not treated for mental-health issues in the months leading up to his death.

He was leading an isolated life - he had no contact with his parents or his son. One psychiatric assessment said Mr. Barnes had low self-esteem and he had previously attempted suicide.

Mr. Barnes was a chronic drug user and traces of cocaine, heroin, and alcohol were in his system during the confrontation with police.

An investigation into the police shooting was led by the outside Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. The team found the use of force by Vancouver police was justified. Neither of the two officers who fired their pistols were charged criminally.