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Coroner to hold public inquest on in-custody death

Victor Kooner - File
Victor Kooner
— image credit: File

The B.C. Coroners Service will hold a public inquest into the death of a man while he was in police custody in Surrey last year.

At about 11 p.m. on June 22, 2010, police received a call that two men were seen running in and out of traffic in the area of 160 Street and 88 Avenue. After Surrey RCMP officers arrested one of the men, Bikermanjit (Victor) Singh Kooner, they said he began to show signs of medical distress¬Ě and was taken to hospital where he later died.

For years prior, Kooner had been operating a facility for addicts that he called the Spiritual Freedom House Society. The 39-year-old father of two had overcome his own addiction to cocaine and was helping others.

Vancouver Police were called in to conduct an independent investigation into his death.

On Tuesday, the coroner's office said it would also be looking into it.

An inquest is scheduled from Feb. 20-24, 2012 and will be headed by coroner Marj Paonessa. A jury will hear from subpoenaed witnesses to determine the facts leading to Kooner's death.

The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future.

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