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A public inquest has heard that a bipolar Vancouver man was manic and off his medication in the weeks before he was shot and killed by eight gunshots from police.
Paul Glenn Boyd, 39, was killed in August 2007 after police responded to a report of a bus stop assault on Granville Street.
When officers arrived, Boyd — who was carrying a hammer and yelling — started fighting with the officers and swinging a bicycle chain. One officer shot him eight times.
A coroner’s inquest into the shooting is now underway in Burnaby, and is expected to last all week.
A Vancouver police officer who arrived in time to see the final shots testified that two officers had their guns pointed at Boyd, who was walking towards them making a growling noise. The officer said he did not see any weapons in Boyd’s hands.
Boyd’s psychiatrist Margaret Duke told the inquest that she had seen him just days before the shooting. He told her he was manic and had stopped taking his medication.
Duke said that she was worried about Boyd, and that they planned to schedule an appointment in the next few days. That never happened.
The inquest also heard from two friends of Boyd, including his former employer. Both remembered him as a talented artist and kind person, but recalled episodes of paranoia in the year leading up to his death.
One friend said Boyd had invested in surveillance equipment because he feared people were coming into his apartment.
Outside the inquest, Boyd’s father David told reporters that he spoke to his son twice on the day before he was killed. During the first call, Boyd was in a positive mood, but by late afternoon, he was worried that his phone had been tapped.
“He said that he was afraid to stay at home in his apartment,” David Boyd said, adding that he tried to discourage his son from going out.
He added that he hopes the inquest will lead to better training for police — especially when they’re dealing with people in the midst of psychotic episodes.
“There’s not much you can do for Paul, but perhaps they’ll learn better how to handle people on the street,” David Boyd said.
“I think the only thing I could recommend is that they don’t start shooting so soon.”
Two years after Boyd’s death, B.C.’s criminal justice branch announced that the officer responsible for the shooting would not face charges. The review found the officer acted reasonably and in accordance with his training.
Boyd’s family issued a statement to media days after his death describing him as a gentle soul who suffered from a mental disorder that could send him into spirals of delusional paranoia.
“Most of the time he was well and few would have guessed that he suffered from any kind of mental disorder,” the statement read.
“But periodically, he would suffer periods of mania and depression which could produce vivid paranoid delusions that made him fear imagined threats.”
Boyd had worked as an animator in various Vancouver studios for 15 years.