Coroner’s inquest into the death of Marc Ekamba Boekwa

Kingsley Gilliam

The Black Action Defense Committee: “This inquest is not about laying blame. It is about ensuring that no family again goes through what the Boekwa family has gone through.”

The commencement of this coroner’s inquest marks just over seven years since Mr. Marc Ekamba was killed by Peel Regional Police.

On March 20, 2015, police received a 911 call for assistance because Mr. Ekamba had threatened a neighbour. Police responded over five hours later and within minutes of their interaction with Mr. Ekamba, he was shot and killed. One police officer shot another police officer, and another innocent bystander was shot while cutting limes in her kitchen. The inquest continues from May 17 – June 3, 2022 and can be viewed by the public at the following link:

The Black Action Defense Committee, (BADC) remains alarmed and continues to be outraged at the high number of Canadians with mental health issues killed during police interactions. BADC will propose several recommendations to the jury, including changes to the Mental Health Act and a redesign of the model of mental health and social service emergency response to create professional crisis intervention First Responder Teams to respond to 911 calls. Police cannot continue to be the frontline responders to every citizen’s call for help, particularly where mental health concerns are present.

BADC and Durham Children’s Aid Society, Durham District School Board and Durham Regional Police

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a public reckoning about current police budgets, the appropriate role for police in our current society, and how we can better allocate resources to address societal issues. This coroner’s inquest gives the public another chance to weigh-in on ways to address the current policing deficiencies that disproportionately risks the lives of people in crisis when they interact with the police. BADC will continue to advocate in this inquest for meaningful, systemic changes borne out of BADC’s decades of experience in mental health, race relations, and police accountability.

The discourse on police interactions with persons in crisis is particularly topical because of the racist shooting that targeted Black people in Buffalo on May 14, 2022. Although armed with an AR-15 “assault-style” rifle, the white suspect was taken into custody safely. What this shows us is that modest changes to training or hiring practices will not be enough to address these deeper issues. We must have uncomfortable conversations about how police perceive suspects based on their perceived mental health and their race.

This inquest is not about laying blame. It is about ensuring that no family again goes through what the Boekwa family has gone through.

For more information please contact:  Kingsley P. Gilliam # 647-267-1774