Inquest into death of Kitchener man shot and killed by police begins
Nearly eight years after 20-year-old Beau Baker was shot and killed by a Waterloo regional police officer, an inquest into the Kitchener man’s death is now getting underway.
Baker was fatally shot outside his Brybeck Crescent apartment on April 2, 2015.
The inquest, which is being held by video conference, started Monday morning. It’s expected to last two weeks and will include testimony from approximately 16 witnesses.
The officer who shot Baker was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in 2015.
At the end of this inquest, the jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths under similar circumstances, but there is no charge or allegation to be proven or disproven and no one is on trial.
On Monday morning, the jury heard information about how Baker died.
On the evening of April 2, 2015, Baker called 911 and threatened to kill himself and harm others, including police and paramedics, the SIU found.
He warned the dispatcher he had a knife that police would have to take from him by force.
The SIU determined an officer pulled his gun, pointed it at Baker and ordered him to drop the knife.
Baker refused and began moving forward, threatening to stab the officer.
The officer fired his weapon seven times, hitting Baker with a fatal shot to his mid-abdomen.
Baker’s family said he was in the midst of a mental health crisis at the time of his death.
The family called for a coroner’s inquest in 2016, but it has taken until now for one to begin.
The first witness accounts occurred Monday afternoon.
JURY SHOWN VIDEO
On the first day, a jury was shown a video of Baker recording himself the night of the shooting.
In it, he could be heard saying, “Baker, before he goes to jail, gets killed, or goes to the psych ward because I’m going to stab a cop and I’m going to try.”
Later, Baker could be heard during a phone call with 911 threatening to kill himself and harm others – including police and paramedics – warning the dispatcher he had a knife that police would have to take from him by force.
On the call, he said “I know I need help. I know I need to be apprehended."
The call ended when the first officer arrived outside the apartment building.
The jury heard an audio recording of Baker’s female roommate.
She explained Baker was outside with a knife, and an officer was asking him to put it down.
She said “Beau said don’t come any closer.”
The jury also heard an interview with Baker's other roommate, who said the first officer to arrive drew his gun and told Baker not to move.
The roommate said, “Beau just moved one foot. And he started opening fire on him.”
The roommate said despite Baker threatening to stab the police, he never thought he would do it.
Adding: “I already know for a fact he wasn’t going to do it because Beau isn’t that kind of guy. Especially when he’s drunk, he’s not violent at all.”
In the final recording played Monday, a neighbour said he saw Baker with his hands held out like a cross while saying something about stabbing the officers.
He said Baker took three steps forward, but there was a fairly large snowbank separating him and an officer, so he was surprised when the shots were fired.
The neighbour said Baker “wasn’t running. He wasn’t charging at them. He was literally standing there with his arms out calling them on.”
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