Rhett Mutch had threatened to kill himself with a knife when police responded to his mother’s home on Dallas Road in Victoria on Nov. 1, 2014.
Instead, the troubled 20-year-old died from a bullet to his neck, fired by one of the officers called there to help.
A Coroner’s Jury wants the B.C. government to adequately fund a coordinated crisis team to be trained and in place around the clock in order to help ensure others going through an acute mental health event don’t suffer a similar fate.
It is one of 12 recommendations a jury has made following an inquest this week into Mutch’s death.
According to a media release issued late Friday by the BC Coroner’s Service, the recommendations focus on police response for those in mental health crises, as well as expanding support for youth transitioning out of government care.
In the aftermath of testimony that kicked off Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria, the jury found that Mutch died as a result of a gunshot wound to the neck, and classified the death as suicide.
The jury’s recommendations were as follows:
To the Ministry of Health:
1. To provide adequate funding to the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response team program to be able to provide services 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
To the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General:
2. To ensure that online retraining for Crisis Intervention De-escalation is refreshed with new and relevant scenarios every two years.
3. To consider a worn (bodycam style) automatic audio and/or audio visual (gps and timestamp) device to assist and supplement the review of radio and/or cell phone records of events.
To the Ministry of Children and Familiy Development:
4. To have fully supported transition (Multi-discipinary/Collaborative) plans from child, to youth, to young adult, to 19 plus.
5. To ensure the Young Adult Program adds a Life Skill Options component to its program with an option to renew every three months up to age 25.
6. To maintain continuation of same support workers as a child ages.
To the South Island Police Departments:
7. All members to be made aware of and encouraged to participate in care services after a critical incident.
To Prime BC and Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Team:
8. That an MOU be entered into by both agencies so a record of attendance at a residence, and /or complainant, by the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response team is noted and “Flagged” in Prime.
To Police Chiefs of Southern Vancouver Island and Island Health:
9. To require that after a defined number of multiple crises calls to police from a single source are received, the following will occur (a) an early intervention from appropriate Ministries is initiated and (b) a collaborative safety plan is created.
To the Independent Investigations office and the BC Association of Police Chiefs:
10. Consider amending the MOU between the agencies to ensure that police officers can debrief in a timely manner.
To Prime BC and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Children and Family Development:
11. To enter into an MOU to provide access to information between all three agencies.
To the Legal Aid Society of BC:
12. To provide a fee category for legal representation at a Coroners Inquest for the family of the deceased person.
Inquests are called to determine the facts surrounding a death. Juries may not find fault or blame but may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths in similar circumstances.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. cleared a Victoria police officer of any wrongdoing in June of 2016.
Mutch’s mother, Marney Mutch, has launched a wrongful death suit against the Victoria Police Department and the City of Victoria in connection with the incident.