The officer who fired seven times was cleared by the Special Investigations Unit
By Gordon Paul Record Reporter Wednesday, February 22, 2023
KITCHENER — A date has been set for an inquest into the death of Beau Baker, a 20-year-old Kitchener man who was shot by a Waterloo Regional Police officer eight years ago.
The inquest will begin March 20 and is expected to last two weeks, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said in a news release on Wednesday.
On April 2, 2015, Baker called 911 in distress, saying he was a danger to himself and others.
A Special Investigations Unit report into the police shooting said he had a knife and moved toward an officer outside Baker’s apartment building on Brybeck Crescent after being ordered to drop the weapon.
An officer who fired seven times was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the SIU. Baker died in hospital.
Sixteen witnesses will testify at the inquest examining the circumstances of Baker’s death.
“The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths from occurring in similar circumstances,” the ministry said.
An inquest is mandatory in Ontario when police use of force results in a death.
Baker’s inquest was delayed for several reasons, including the death of a prosecutor and a request by the officer who shot Baker to remain anonymous during the inquest.
The officer had cited safety concerns for themselves and their family, but a judge rejected the request in 2018, ruling anonymity was not necessary or justified.
The COVID-19 pandemic also delayed the inquest.
Last April, a small group gathered in downtown Kitchener to remember Baker and to call on Ontario’s chief coroner to set an inquest date.
“I think it’s very disturbing that we’re sitting here seven years after the shooting,” Greg Thornton, a friend of Baker’s older brother who met Beau just a week prior to his death, said at the gathering.
“It doesn’t make sense why some pursuits of justice are prioritized over others.”
The group tied black ribbons to railings along a walkway between Waterloo Regional Police’s Central Division and Region of Waterloo headquarters on Frederick Street, before signing a letter to the Ontario chief coroner’s office in Toronto.
“We’re just asking for a date to be set,” said Sam Nabi then.
Back in 2018, the lawyer for the Baker family at the time, Davin Charney, sent a letter to the chief coroner.
“The truth of what happened the night that Beau was killed remains unknown to his family and the community,” he wrote.
“This delay is agonizing and causes the family to suffer further grief and anxiety.”
Dr. David Eden will be the presiding officer at the inquest; Julian Roy will be inquest counsel.
The inquest will be conducted by video conference. Members of the public will be able to watch it online.