A Nanaimo man shot and killed during a 2009 confrontation with police had what police believed to be a gun in his hand that he was threatening to use on officers, according to police recordings of the incident.
A coroner’s inquest into the death of Jeffrey Scott Hughes, 48, got underway in B.C. Supreme Court today (July 25) in Nanaimo. Hughes was shot by Nanaimo RCMP Oct. 23, 2009 after police responded to a noise complaint at his apartment building in the 500 block of Selby Street.
A year and a half later, major crime unit detectives from Victoria Police Department cleared the Nanaimo RCMP members involved of any criminal wrongdoing, but would not give details on the case prior to the inquest other than stating that Hughes allegedly brandished a weapon of some sort.
In the courtroom Monday, Coroner Marj Paonessa and the jury listened to police radio and telephone communications, compiled by Det. Michelle Robertson of the Victoria Police Department, which started at 5:37 a.m. on Oct. 23 with a complaint from the building manager that Hughes was playing music loudly and waking up other tenants.
Two officers arrived 10 minutes later and interviewed the building manager. A third officer was also called out.
The third officer observed blood droplets leading to Hughes’s apartment and asked the dispatcher to call paramedics to the scene.
Around 6 a.m., one responding officer radioed that Hughes was threatening to shoot them.
The jury also heard two calls to the psychiatric unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in an attempt to get information on Hughes, attempts to contact the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s crisis response team for the same reason and requests for more police backup, including a police dog, the emergency response team and negotiators.
At 6:51 a.m., officers reported that Hughes had a firearm, then soon after reported that Hughes was in the hallway with the gun, then moving to the front of the building, at which time police reported shots fired and then that Hughes had been shot.
At 7:03 a.m., someone from the crisis response team called back and gave police some information on the subject, including that they had not seen Hughes since 2004, that he was considered violent and had a history of making threats.
Police did not move in on Hughes until the emergency response team announced that the area was clear at 7:19 a.m., which Robertson explained meant they had the weapon, later identified as a flare gun, away from the subject.
A paramedic attended Hughes shortly afterward, at which time he was pronounced dead.
The inquest is scheduled to run until Friday (July 29).
Other witnesses to be called include the apartment manager, two other tenants, some friends, several of the police officers involved, a paramedic, a pathologist, a toxicologist, Hughes’s general practitioner, Staff Sgt. Keith Lindner with Victoria PD and Kelly Reid, VIHA’s director for mental health and addictions services.