The B.C. Court of Appeal has tossed out the results of a civil lawsuit that found a Saanich police officer “grossly negligent” in the shooting death of Majencio Camaso on July 11, 2004.
Appeal Court Justice Richard Low has ordered a new trial. In a written judgement released Thursday, Low said “the trial judge (Justice Grant Burnyeat) erred in law his assessment of the body of evidence before him and that the appropriate remedy is a new trial rather than dismissal of the action.”
In the original civil lawsuit brought forward by Camaso’s wife and family, Burnyeat ruled Const. Kristopher Dukeshire had unjustifiably shot Camaso following a foot chase, and where Camaso ran at the officer brandishing one or two metal objects. In his judgment, Burnyeat said the officer’s actions were “grossly negligent.”
“By excluding the police expert evidence from almost all the analysis leading to his findings of negligence, the trial judge was not responsive to the case as presented in evidence and as argued by the parties,” Low wrote in response.
“There is no discussion of the evidentiary link between the negligent conduct and the shooting of Mr. Camaso. Further, the judge did not answer the correct question. Any negligence on the part of Cst. Dukeshire prior to the attack by Mr. Camaso could have caused the death only if it was proven that such negligence caused Mr. Camaso to attack the constable with a weapon or weapons.
“In my opinion, because the judge … did not provide a reasoned analysis to show a connection between Cst. Dukeshire’s conduct during the pursuit and the death of Mr. Camaso. The causation analysis was incomplete and therefore defective as a matter of law,” Law’s judgment goes on to say.
Last September, the District of Saanich appealed Burnyeat’s decision, including his order that Saanich pay $354,000 in losses and damages to the Camaso family. The original trial, presided over by Burnyeat, spanned nearly five months in 2009-10.
Low ordered the new trial to be limited to the claims of negligence that were the subject of the appeal.
“First of all, we continue to grieve the loss of Mr. Camaso. It’s something that’s weighed heavily with us ever since (it happened),” said Mayor Frank Leonard in response to the recent Court of Appeal decision. “However, we are pleased that the judge ruled in our favour … (because) we thought that the previous judgment was not consistent with law or police practices.”
Jacqueline Horton, a friend of the Camaso family and former legal counsel for Majencio’s widow, Teresa, said the Camaso family does not currently have a statement and is still reviewing their options.
Calls made to Cameron Ward, the Camasos’ lawyer, were not immediately returned.
To read the full Court of Appeal judgment, visit www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/13/01/2013BCCA0006.htm