Mother of man killed by police wants officer's name made public
Jackie Baker knows her son was shot seven times and killed by a Waterloo Regional Police officer. She knows Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit found that the officer who shot Baker was acting within the realm of his duties.
Other than that, there’s still very little she knows about what happened outside a townhouse on Brybeck Crescent in Kitchener on the night of April 2, 2015.
She was only ever allowed to see part of the SIU’s report. A coroner’s inquest was called in 2016 – following much prodding from the Baker family – but not yet scheduled.. A civil lawsuit is on hold pending developments with the inquest.
What Baker is sure of is her belief that the officer must have had options available to them other than killing her son.
“Beau didn’t have to die,” she says.
“He was ill. He wasn’t bad. He wasn’t a criminal. He wasn’t out robbing people or beating people up.”
At the time of his death, Beau Baker was 20 years old. The SIU investigation found that he was holding a knife and moving toward a police officer. Family members have said he was in the midst of a mental health crisis.
On Tuesday – the first regular work day for police officers and court personnel since the three-year anniversary of Baker’s death – about 20 of his friends and relatives gathered for a rally in downtown Kitchener. They aimed to draw attention to the lack of information known about the shooting, and to call for the name of the officer who shot Baker to be released publicly and a date to be set for the inquest.
“The community … deserves to know the truth. It’s important that we understand what happens when people are shot and killed by police,” said Davin Charney, the lawyer representing the Baker family.
“These shootings are preventable. They don’t need to happen. Beau Baker didn’t need to be shot and killed.”
The group met outside the Kitchener courthouse, then marched across the street to the Kitchener police station.
Once inside the police station, they chanted slogans like “Justice for Beau; justice for all” and hung a banner reading “Justice delayed is justice denied. Who shot Beau Baker?” on a wall.
After a few minutes, Supt. Chris Goss, the head of the detachment, entered the lobby offering to answer the protestors’ questions.
“We understand that this has been a very difficult time for the community, a difficult time for the family,” he said.
“Her son was killed, and she doesn’t even know the man’s name of the person who killed her. Difficult is not the word for that,” one man responded.
“We are trying to do what we can do,” Goss replied, noting that police co-operated with the SIU investigation and plan to do the same with the inquest.
Michael Main, a lawyer working for Chief Coroner of Ontario, said Tuesday that the coroner’s office was gathering evidence and reports from organizations other than police and the SIU, and hoped the qinuest would be able to proceed “in the near future.”
Baker’s family has filed a $6-million lawsuit against Waterloo Region’s police board, Chief Bryan Larkin, the unnamed officer who shot Baker and an officer who witnessed the shooting.
With reporting by Nicole Lampa