Inquest into fatal police shooting of Tony Divers scheduled to begin in November

The inquest into the death Tony Divers, an unarmed man who was shot and killed by a Hamilton police officer in 2016, will begin in November.

The 36-year-old died in hospital on Oct. 1, 2016 after being shot on a busy downtown street, right by Hamilton GO Centre shortly before midnight on Sept. 30.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit ruled the officer who killed Divers was justified in believing his own life was at risk, fearing that Divers was armed and reaching for a weapon.

Divers was unarmed when he was shot.

In its decision, the SIU said officers responding to a call that Divers had assaulted a women had been told he was armed, was high on drugs, had a violent history and was considered “anti-police.”

The report says when the officer confronted the Hamilton man, he started walking away from the officer, ignoring his calls to stop and get on the ground.

It says he then turned around with his hand in the waistband of his pants and took two steps toward him, taking something out from the front of pants and pointing it at the officer.

The officer fired two shots, one hitting Divers in the chest.

A picture of Divers and some flowers serve as a memorial outside Yvonne Alenxander’s home. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Divers’ family has raised questions about his death. His sister, Yvonne Alexander, previously told CBC News she’s hoping that a inquest jury will share her feelings that police need increased training in de-escalation techniques when dealing with people who are in crisis.

Alexander said she was also prepared for the inquest to be some of the most difficult days of her life.

“We need to know who he is, and see him — the person who killed my brother,” she said back in November 2018 when the inquest was first announced.

“We’re going to relive it all over again, but we have to know what happened and why — why he pulled his gun, why he felt he couldn’t talk to my brother.”

Leslie-Ann Wilson, Edward Divers and Yvonne Alexander have raise questions about Tony’s death. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

A media release from the province that was issued Monday noted that because Divers died following an “interaction with the Hamilton Police Service” and inquest is mandatory under the Coroner’s Act.

“The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding Mr. Divers’ death,” it stated. “The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths.”

The inquest is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on November 4 at the John Sopinka Courthouse.

It’s expected to run for two weeks and will include approximately 20 witnesses.

More to come.