Inquest: machete-wielding man police shot was drunk and high 0
A machete police recovered after Darrell Elroy Barnes was fatally shot by officers July 22, 2011 in Vancouver. (B.C. Coroners Service photo)
Given the circumstances behind the shooting of a delirious, machete-swinging man killed by Vancouver police on a public street last year, his death likely couldn't have been prevented, a coroner's jury decided Tuesday.
After the two-day inquest into Darrell Elroy Barnes' death, which resulted in no recommendations to prevent future similar incidents, the jury couldn't see any helpful changes to make, said Coroner Barb McLintock.
"Once the jury heard all the evidence, they couldn't see any changes that were reasonable or practical or might prevent death," she said.
The inquest on Tuesday heard Barnes might have had a combative, seemingly "superhuman" mental state on July 22, 2011, when police shot the armed man after he ignored commands to cease his aggressive behaviour in public.
Angela Chung, an RCMP toxicologist who helped examine Barnes' remains, described a cocktail of different drugs within the 48-year-old's body.
The night of his death, the Grand Union Hotel waiter was inebriated, high on cocaine and possibly heroin - drugs that when mixed, compound to increase the level of intoxication.
The amount of cocaine alone in his body may have been enough to dramatically change his mental state.
"Something known as excited delirium syndrome . they become very aggressive and very combative. At this stage, some people describe it as the individuals feel like they have superhuman strength, and are kind of not aware of what's going on around them," Chung told the inquest.
Ministry of Social Development worker Susan Frith said Barnes, an on-and-off income assistance recipient, notified her office he was using crack-cocaine nearly five years before his death.
She said Barnes was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, in addition to alcohol and drugs.
He took a treatment program between 2008 and 2009 and graduated, but relapsed about 10 months later.
There was no indication he ever received treatment for his other medical conditions, she told the inquest.
The purpose of the inquest is not to identify fault.