Coroner calls inquest into Bartley shooting

Exactly one year to the day she buried her son, Catherine Bartley found little solace in the news that a date had finally been set for a public inquest.

On Friday, the B.C. Coroners Service announced it will begin an inquest on May 14, 2012, to determine the facts surrounding Wilbert Bartley's death in Kamloops.

Bartley was shot and killed by a plain-clothed RCMP officer on July 30, 2010, in the parking lot of the Robo carwash/Esso gas bar on the North Shore. He had apparently backed his SUV into an unmarked police van.

"It's been a terrible day for me," said Catherine Bartley by telephone Friday from her home in Ontario.

"It's been a terrible day for my whole family."

The 75-year-old woman had spent much of the day marking the one-year anniversary of her son's memorial service, and her grief as raw as it was a year ago.

"There couldn't possibly be anything worse than losing a child like this," said Bartley. "If it had been a (car) accident, anything else, but to have him die at the hands of a police officer, it's unbelievable."

This past May, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch ruled that an exhaustive investigation had determined the officer who shot Wilbert Bartley was defending himself.

But Bartley's mother is lobbying to have that ruling overturned. She sent a request by courier this week to B.C.'s Attorney General, asking for a second investigation into her son's death.

She said the family is running out of patience.

As for the coroner's inquest, Bartley said she plans to attend, if only to confront the officer who killed her son.

Overcome with tears, she declared, "I'm going to see that cop and he has to look at me. He has to see what he took from me. He took my life from me, that's what he took."

The inquest is scheduled to take place over four days at Kamloops Law Courts. It will be led by coroner Mark Coleman and will include a jury.

B.C. Coroner Service spokesman Shane DeMeyer, who issued the press release on Friday, said he was unaware that Aug. 12 was the one-year anniversary of Bartley's memorial service.

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