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Family of VPD shooting victim suing for wrongful death

The family of Michael vann Hubbard, the man fatally shot by a police officer in downtown Vancouver last week, is filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Vancouver Police Department.

The announcement was made today at a press conference held by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and Paul Nigol of Pivot Legal, the lawyer retained by the family.

Vann Hubbard, 58, of no fixed address, was confronted Friday by two police officers claiming he matched the description of a reported backpack theft from a vehicle five blocks away.

He pulled out an X-Acto knife after which he was shot by a police officer and died at the scene.

Abbotsford police, who are overseeing the investigation, confirmed this week that vann Hubbard was not the suspect and the backpack in his possession was his own.

A witness to the incident, Adam Smolcic, said vann Hubbard was not being aggressive. Smolcic is awaiting the results of a data-recovery expert for his cell phone video he said captured the event and was later deleted by police.

This video could be vital to the investigation and public perception of the event, said David Eby, acting executive director of the BCCLA. He cited the effects of similar videos in the deaths of Frank Paul and Robert Dziekanski.

“We have no reason to believe that this will be any different.”

The BCCLA released a statement from two daughters of vann Hubbard at today’s press conference, describing the man as an artist and social justice advocate who fought for the rights of the poor.

Eby said the BCCLA has renewed its calls for civilian investigation of police-related deaths, a point echoed in the following part of the daughters' statement:

“It is indeed ironic that he died in this manner, given his views of social justice. He would be proud to be the impetus for change and I am sure that I honor him by pursuing the truth surrounding his death, in the hopes that civilian investigation of the police becomes a reality.”

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook

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