Saanich will appeal ruling that found police officer ‘grossly negligent’ in Camaso death

Saanich has confirmed it will appeal a B.C. Supreme Court judgment that ruled one of their police officers was “grossly negligent” in the shooting death of a mentally ill man in 2004.

“Provincial police associations have urged the municipality to appeal the judgment because it raises serious questions about the accepted principles associated with the use of force in policing,” read a statement released from the municipality. “Force is an important tool to protect both public and officer safety when apprehending and controlling dangerous persons.”

On April 13, Justice Grant Burnyeat ruled that Const. Kris Dukeshire’s actions on July 11, 2004 negligently resulted in the death of Majencio Camaso.

“Dukeshire breached the duty of care owed to Mr. Camaso when he did not use the least amount of force necessary to carry out his duties,” Burnyeat wrote in his judgment.

He also said the Saanich police investigation into the death was negligent for a number of reasons, including the failure “to test the theory of whether Const. Dukeshire had reasonable grounds to believe it was necessary to shoot Mr. Camaso to protect himself.”

Municipal solicitor Chris Nation said the appeal will focus on the finding that Dukeshire was grossly negligent.

“Essentially we believe the judge’s decision was incorrect,” he said.

Saanich’s outside legal council, Michael Hargreaves, who represented the municipality at the lengthy Supreme Court trial, which ran from September 2009 to January 2010, has until May 13 to file a notice of appeal.

Nation said the process could take more than a year before it’s heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Burnyeat awarded $238,912 in losses and damages to Mrs. Camaso, and an additional $115,000 to her daughter Christine, who was three at the time of her father’s death. Saanich would be liable to pay the damages.

Nation said a meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday for legal counsels to discuss who should pay the legal fees and costs relating to the Supreme Court trial.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard says the municipality has also retained former police complaints commissioner Dirk Ryneveld to independently review Saanich police policy.

“What happened after the tragic incident has been reviewed previously, however the judgment made a number of comments … and we decided to hire Dirk to get that external set of eyes who understands police policy issues,” Leonard said. “Because we want to continue to have full public confidence in the Saanich Police Department.”

Ryneveld was police complaints commissioner in 2005 when a review determined no action needed to be taken against the police or Dukeshire.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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