Families of those shot by police can now get publicly funded lawyers at coroner's inquests

July 14, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

Families of individuals killed by police will now be entitled to publicly funded lawyers at coroner's inquests, the province announced Friday.

The government will also reimburse families who had to pay for lawyers at inquests going back to April 1, 2015.

The announcement comes a week after a Star story detailed the plight of the family of Michael MacIsaac, who was shot dead by Durham police Const. Brian Taylor in Ajax in December 2013.

The inquest into MacIsaac's death, where the jury can make non-binding recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future, is set to begin Monday in Toronto.

But his family has had to raise funds for a lawyer, because until now the only provincial program that provided funding for lawyers for families at police-involved inquests included the criteria that the deceased person had to have been a victim of crime.

As critics have pointed out, the vast majority of police shooting deaths in Ontario, including in the MacIsaac case, do not lead to criminal charges.

On the other hand, many other parties at inquests, including the police services board and the individual officers, are funded directly by tax dollars or indirectly through police union dues.

Some families were able to secure funding for lawyers at police shooting inquests in the past through Legal Aid Ontario if they met certain criteria. The MacIsaac family said they were denied funding through LAO.

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