News / Vancouver

Coroner's inquest calls police involved shooting death a suicide

VICTORIA — The death of a Victoria man who was shot during a confrontation with police has been classified as a suicide, says the jury for a coroner's inquest.

Twenty-year-old Rhett Mutch was shot in the neck after Victoria police responded to a 911 call from his mother's home on Nov. 1, 2014.

The report did not say why the jury classified the case as a suicide.

The coroner's jury issued 12 recommendations Friday, aimed at preventing people suffering from mental health issues from police-involved deaths.

One recommendation urged the Ministry of Health to provide sufficient funding to the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response team program to ensure it can maintain around the clock services seven days per week.

The jurors also made recommendations on expanding support for youth transitioning out of government care and the training police officers receive in dealing with mental health crises.

The officer who fired the shot that killed Mutch was cleared of wrong doing last year by the provincial police watchdog.

A report by the Independent Investigations Office said several officers responded to a 911 call from Mutch's mother saying he'd broken into her house and was threatening to harm himself with a knife.

When the officers tried to arrest Mutch, he ran towards them with a weapon and was shot once in the neck after a projectile from a bean bag gun failed to slow him down, the report said.

The report also detailed an exchange between officers and Mutch's mother, who told police the young man wouldn't hurt anyone, despite being armed.

The woman said the officer's gun would only scare her son, who was already in tears.

She said the officers would not let her stay in the house and that as she left, one of them held a large gun that looked like a bazooka.

"The mother stated, 'This is really overkill,''' the report said.

One of four paramedics who arrived at the scene told investigators that a shot to the left side of Mutch's neck appeared to have hit an artery and that blood was spurting out with each chest compression performed by one of two officers attending to him.

The report said CPR was started in an effort to resuscitate Mutch but there was no sign of life.

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