Frank Paul died, alone, in a frozen heap on a dirty side street in Vancouver on December 5th, 1998.
Here we are, 8 years later, listening to the men involved in that death testify at a long awaited public inquiry, and the testimony is startling, as well as contradictory. Clearly, some detail will be lost over the years, but I highly doubt that the memory of contributing to a mans death will leave some of those involved, ever.
I’ve been called hard and callous at times, because I think addicts need to experience the reality and consequence of their addictions. If that means they died on a street, high and alone, because they overdosed on the drug of their choosing, so be it.No one forced them down that road, and there are options all along the way. I feel bad for the families, who really suffer the most from the bad choices of their loved one.
That being said, Frank Pauls death was different. He did not choose to freeze to death on that street, that night. He was dumped like yesterdays garbage, clearly incoherent and unable to even stand. What the hell were those officers thinking?
The video shows a man unable to do more than crawl weakly, being dragged across the floor in obviously soaked clothing. He is clearly not able to function sufficiently enough to be able to find his way anywhere without assitance.
Former police sergeant Russell Sanderson claims he didn’t think Paul was drunk enough to merit a stay in the drunk tank,and he also claims that he was , in fact, unaware that he was homeless.
The testimony from the wagon driver, Constable David Instant, who was instructed to dump Frank Paul off, refutes every bit of testimony given by his superior. He claims Sanderson told him that Paul was homeless, knew he was heavily intoxicated, and just didn’t want to deal with him.
We are going to hear more with today’s continuing testimony, however, to what end I’m hesitant to speculate.
Frank Paul is dead, we cant change that.Former Sergeant Russell Sanderson was already punished by the VPD,along with another officer – case closed. A very small suspension, in exchange for a mans life- and the crown decided that charges didn’t merit in the case, so neither officer suffered criminal consequences.
The aim of the inquiry , curious enough, is not to find fault – although in my eyes, fault is clearly being established with the testimonies heard to date. It is to examine police policies and recommend changes if needed.
I think the greater purpose to be served with this inquiry, is to provide much needed closure to the family and friends of the deceased, who have known and lived with the knowledge that this was preventable death.
How does one put a value on another mans life? I think Russell Sanderson has the answer.