Police Use of Deadly Force: Canadian Perspectives


195 pages
ISBN 0-919584-63-2




Reviewed by Aluin Gilchrist

Aluin Gilchrist is a Vancouver-based Canadian government civil
litigation lawyer.


When a draft of this reached local police, “COPS BLAST PROF” was headline news. The authors discuss the 119 civilian deaths from police firearms in Canada from 1970 to 1981, focusing on eight of the 14 in British Columbia. They feel that, just as it is wrong to inflict the death penalty, it is wrong for police to risk killing to arrest suspects. They would punish police who use deadly force otherwise than in defence of life.

Police work means controlling people. The usual persuader is a demonstrated ability to use superior force. Unfortunately, the drawing of a revolver will probably end whatever chance there may have been for conciliation, sympathy, and compromise. If a drawn revolver fails to intimidate, the stage is then set for homicide.

Not content with police internal reviews, coroners’ inquests, criminal prosecutions, and civil liability lawsuits, the authors suggest a need for a truly independent investigatory body with power to oversee police conduct.


Chappell, Duncan, and Linda P. Graham, “Police Use of Deadly Force: Canadian Perspectives,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed January 23, 2022, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36341.