A grieving Maple Ridge family held a rally Saturday to seek justice for their brother, who died at the hands of police officers.
Kyaw Din’s family wants to know why a call for help turned deadly.
“He is a very kind person, I cannot imagine why this has to happen to him,” said Yin Yin Din, his younger sister.
Din’s family said the 54-year-old had schizophrenia, which resulted in him going in and out of hospital.
On Aug. 11, his sister called 911 when she discovered he was not taking his medication.
She said she required assistance to get him to go to the hospital. On previous occasions, she said, the family would call police to have him taken to the hospital.
That day, when police arrived, she said she asked them to wait for other family members and for a translator before taking him to the hospital.
She said it didn't take long before the shots rang out from her brother's bedroom.
When Listen Chen, an advocate for the homeless in Maple Ridge, learned about what happened to Din’s family, she felt compelled to reach out to them.
“When I saw that a poor Burmese man who didn’t speak much English and was experiencing schizophrenia was killed by the police, it felt really important to me to connect the dots,” she said. “We need to fight for justice for Kyaw and we need to look at the patterns that produced his death in the first place.”
The family believes there should be accountability; they want the officer in charge at the Ridge Meadows RCMP resign and the officer who shot their brother to be charged. They're also demanding that armed police officers no longer attend mental health calls.
“Someone carrying a gun, a Taser and a Billy club is unlikely to be able to descalate somebody experiencing mental health crisis or distress or is vulnerable. If you carry a hammer around, you’re going to look for nails. And that’s what we see,” Chen said.
At the time of the shooting, Ridge Meadows RCMP said Din was armed with a knife, adding officers used a Taser before opening fire. The family denied Din was armed.
B.C.'s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, was called to investigate what unfolded in the home.
Yin Yin said the IIO told her that Mounties claimed her brother threw an exercise weight at them before they fired.
She believes that story was fabricated because she finds it hard to believe that her brother would have the strength to throw a five-pound weight since she said he was sick and weak.
She said the turnout at the rally, which was attended by more than 30 people, gives her hope that there will be justice for Kyaw.