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Date set for inquest into deaths of Jovan Williams and Shirley Williams

VICTORIA – The BC Coroners Service has rescheduled a public inquest into the deaths of Jovan Christopher Williams and Shirley Beatrice Williams.

The inquest will begin on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge and Conference Centre at 3251 East Highway 16 in Smithers. It was originally scheduled for June 15, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deaths of Jovan Christopher Williams, 39, and Shirley Beatrice Williams, 73, were reported to the BC Coroners Service by RCMP officers on April 21, 2016, following a police altercation.

Under Section 18(2) of the Coroners Act, inquests are mandatory for any deaths that occur while a person was detained by, or in the custody of, a peace officer.

Larry Marzinzik, presiding coroner, and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding these deaths. The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances. A jury must not make any finding of legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law.

An inquest is a formal process that allows public presentation of evidence relating to a death. The jury will certify the identity of the deceased and how, where, when and by what means death occurred. The inquest will be open to the public, but seating will be limited.

Live streaming allows the public and media to virtually attend an inquest. The same rules apply as for in-person attendance at an inquest. Reproduction, broadcasting and publishing, including through social media, of the BC Coroners Service live video stream and its content are prohibited.

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