Coroners inquests are failing to prevent more police shooting deaths

“We speak for the dead to protect the living.” So goes the motto of the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, whose job it is to conduct inquests into police custody deaths with a view to improving public safety.

But rather than functioning as a powerful tool for impartial investigation and making systemic changes in laws and policies governing the conduct of police, inquests are failing in their mandate to prevent deaths.

As a lawyer who has represented community groups and family members at inquests of persons killed by police over the past several years, I am reminded of the problems that beset cases like Andrew Loku’s as the inquest into his police shooting death came to an end recently.

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