Drugs, delusions and death: Coroner’s inquest into 2018 Mill Bay man fatally shot by police begins

Drugs, delusions and death: Coroner's inquest into 2018 Mill Bay man fatally shot by police begins

A coroner’s inquest into the death of a man shot to death by police near Mill Bay in 2018 began at the Victoria courthouse on Tuesday.

The witnesses testifying on day one ranged from Chris Bloomfield’s friends to his psychiatrist, who detailed his long history of drug use and relating psychotic episodes, and the police who shot him.

Shawnigan RCMP was first alerted to concerns around Bloomfield by his mother, Marilyn Bloomfield. Const. Dylan Clarkson, now with Victoria Police, recounted to the courtroom that Marilyn came to the Shawnigan detachment “scared for her life.”

Watch the report below:

Clarkson observed in her the exhaustion he’d only previously seen in soldiers at war.

Clarkson says Marilyn, now deceased, told him how her son was suffering delusions that Satan was in his body, that he was taking psychotics, wasn’t sleeping and was now getting physically violent with her.

“I think they’re probably the worst bruises I’d seen as a police officer at that point,” said Clarkson, describing the bruises on Marilyn’s back.

She was afraid her son was putting LSD in her food, had hurt her, and was worried it was going to get worse. She warned them that he said he’d kill himself if someone came to take him away and that police should expect violence.

Clarkson testified that he did a background check on Bloomfield and found a lengthy history of drug use and fights with police where Chris would run first and then would fight when police put “hands-on.”

Clarkson says his goal was never to draw his weapon as a police officer. All that changed when he and his small team arrived with warrants for his arrest.

Upon arrival, Clarkson says Bloomfield deadbolted the front door and ran into the kitchen. Somehow, officers obtained entry, and one deployed a taser. The taser only seemed to provoke Bloomfield, who began running towards Clarkson, stabbing wildly at him with a knife.

“There was no doubt in my mind was that if he gets any closer, he’s going to kill me,” said Clarkson, who said Bloomfield’s knife nicked his finger.

Clarkson was forced to back up. Nearly boxed in, fired three rounds into Bloomfield’s chest, telling the jury that police are trained to shoot at centre mass. Another constable on scene shot Bloomfield as well.

“I believe Chris chose us as his vehicle for death,” Clarkson told the courtroom.

It’s a sentiment his psychiatrist echoed. Dr. Dale McDermit recounted Bloomfield’s 10-year struggle with hallucinogens and other drugs and related psychotic episodes. He defined 2018 as the year when Bloomfield was starting to work on his trauma.

His childhood friend Kyren Teufel agrees.

“The last couple of years, he was in a much better place,” said Teufel.

McDermit says he was grieving the loss of a very intense relationship, the loss of connection with his child he may have had, and had been injured in an arrest in police. His psychiatrist says 2018 was when he was starting to take responsibility for his actions, was gaining maturity and insight, and was finally viewing his drug use as addiction.

But friends say that in the fall of 2018, Bloomfield started experimenting with an analog PCP (Phencyclidine) – a cutting-edge version of PCP, something known as a designer drug. Drugs.com defines PCP as a mind-altering drug that may lead to hallucinations.

“He had extreme reactions to hallucinogens, it was very dangerous,” said McDermit when asked about how Bloomfield reacted to the drugs.

Clarkson says his Bloomfield’s mother Marilyn had also relayed to him that he’d been recently hogtied and raped at a party.

When asked what could have been done better to keep Bloomfield alive, McDermit said unequivocally, a mental health team who responded with police that day. Teufel agrees.

“I do think there are ways we can change how we approach people who need help,” said Teufel.

Clarkson says the lack of emergency mental health resources in the small community contributed, as did the current model of voluntary hospitalization.

“I think that the current mental health system of voluntary hospitalization is not working,” said Clarkson, who became emotional talking about how often he encounters this problem on calls.

The purpose of the inquest is to determine the details that led to Bloomfield’s death and to find recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

This inquest is scheduled to continue until July 12.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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