The five-person jury at the coroner’s inquest into the shooting death of James Butters (a.k.a James Hayward) at the hands of the police retired Tuesday to deliberate on recommendations arising form the incident.
Butters, 24, died on July 8, 2015 following a police-involved shooting after Port Hardy RCMP members responded to a call of a male uttering threats.
It was just after 11 a.m. when the Port Hardy RCMP responded to a complaint of a man making threats towards security staff at Port Hardy Secondary School, where a staging area for a wildfire burning throughout the previous week had been set up.
The man, later identified as Butters, was wielding a knife.
According to the Independent Investigation Office’s report, witnesses said, after being confronted by the RCMP, Butters moved toward the police with the knife in his hand and was shot to the ground.
Paramedics were then called and Butters was pronounced dead at the scene.
The inquest into the incident began in a Campbell River courtroom on Tuesday, Aug. 20 and heard from Hayward’s aunt Nora Hayward, a friend, public witnesses to the incident, a mental health worker, Butters’ probation officer, the RCMP officers involved in the incident, a forensic expert, an expert on RCMP use-of-force training, a prison psychologist and a pathologist.
The jury, comprised of three women and two men, were given instructions from the coroner conducting the inquest, Lyn Blenkinsop.
“It is your duty to consult with one another and achieve a just result,” Blenkinsop said.
Previously, Blenkinsop had said the jury’s duty is threefold:
To determine the facts as they relate to a death, specifically the identity of the deceased, how, when, where and by what means the deceased came to his death.
To make recommendations, where appropriate and supported by the evidence, that may prevent future loss of life in similar circumstances.
As a means for satisfying a community that the circumstances surrounding the death of one of its members will not be overlooked, concealed or ignored.
Blenkinsop said if the jurors feels there are no reasonable recommendations to be made, then they are free to state that. If they are going to make recommendations, she told them to base them solely on the evidence heard over the course of the hearings.
The jurors could come back with a report as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.