The Government of British Columbia has appointed an independent commission of inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Frank Joseph Paul. Mr. Paul, a Mi'kmaq from New Brunswick, was removed from the Vancouver Police Department lockup at about 8:30 p.m. on December 5, 1998, and was left in a nearby alley by a police officer. His body was found in the alley early the next morning. An autopsy concluded he had died from hypothermia due to exposure/alcohol intoxication.
The sole Commissioner, appointed under the Public Inquiry Act, is former B.C. Supreme Court Justice William H. Davies, Q.C.
Backgrounder From the Inquiry website:
At 8:18 p.m. on December 5, 1998 Frank Joseph Paul, a 47-year-old New Brunswick Mi’Kmaq First Nations man living in Vancouver, was arrested in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver by two Vancouver police officers for being intoxicated in a public place. He was transported to the Vancouver Police Department’s jail facility at 312 Main Street. Several minutes later he was removed from the lockup, placed into a police van, and left in an alleyway in East Vancouver. Mr. Paul’s body was found at the same location at 2:41 a.m. the following morning.
According to the autopsy report, death was attributed to hypothermia due to acute alcohol intoxication. The coroner decided against calling a Coroner’s Inquest, choosing instead to conduct an Inquiry without a jury under s. 20 of the Coroners Act, and issued a Judgment of Inquiry.
In 2000 the Vancouver Police Department concluded disciplinary proceedings against two officers. One officer was suspended for two days for discreditable conduct, and the other officer was suspended for one day for neglect of duty.
In January 2002 the Police Complaints Commissioner advised the Chief of the Vancouver Police Department that, in his view, a Public Hearing under the Police Act would not be the appropriate vehicle to address the issues arising from the death of Mr. Paul, and that he would be taking no further action. He subsequently wrote to the provincial Solicitor General, recommending an inquest and suggesting a province-wide review of police response to circumstances where they detain or release people who are unable to care for themselves.
In June 2003 the new Police Complaints Commissioner released to counsel acting for Mr. Paul’s family portions of the police jail surveillance video depicting Mr. Paul’s arrival and departure at the Vancouver Police jail on December 5, 1998. Based on new information concerning the circumstances of Mr. Paul’s removal from the jail hours before his death, the Police Complaints Commissioner re-opened the Frank Paul file. In January 2004 he published Reasons for Decision in which he recommended a full public inquiry.
On several occasions the Criminal Justice Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General examined the circumstances surrounding Mr. Paul’s death. In each review, the Branch decided not to proceed with criminal charges against any of the police officers involved.
On February 22, 2007 the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced a public inquiry into the Frank Paul case. On March 9, 2007 he announced that William H. Davies, Q.C. would act as commissioner, and that the inquiry would be conducted under the proposed new Public Inquiry Act.
On August 10, 2007 the Attorney General published the public inquiry’s purpose and terms of reference. The Commission is to submit a final report to the Attorney General on or before May 31, 2008.
I will try to upload video of the testimony of his cousin, Peggy Clement. At this time, I cannot seem to upload it.