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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Taser inquest delayed

November 18, 2009
BC Local News

An inquest into the death of a man Tasered by police has been delayed.

A preliminary hearing began on Monday to determine whether charges of robbery against Trina Toffan, 36, warrant going to trial. Four days have been set aside in Provincial Court in Surrey to hear evidence. Toffan has chosen a Supreme Court judge and jury, if the case goes to trial.

Toffan was charged in connection with an armed robbery of the Royal Bank in Brookswood on Sept. 30, 2008 that led to a bizarre and tragic chain of events.

Less than 10 minutes after the armed robbery, police descended on a Brookswood home. Toffan’s boyfriend, Frank Frachette, 49, who police say robbed the the bank, was seen minutes later jumping from his second-storey window naked and bleeding from stab wounds to his chest. He was then Tasered by police after he made an attempt to get back into the house. He died on the way to hospital. He had no criminal history when the robbery was committed.

Toffan has been free on bail. Evidence given in the preliminary hearing cannot be published until after a trial has concluded.

At the time of Frachette’s death, police indicated there would be a full investigation by Vancouver Police and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team because he was Tasered.

Whenever there is an “in custody death,” a coroner’s inquiry is mandatory, said Jeff Dolan, director for the coroner’s service.

The cause of death wasn’t revealed after Frachette died because an inquest was going to take place by a coroner and jury.

But the inquiry could be a year or more away, depending when, or if, Toffan’s trial goes ahead.

“Due to the fact there is a criminal investigation going on, we can’t compromise that investigation and we would be interviewing the same witnesses,” said Dolan.

He said a coroner’s jury is made up of the same pool of people used in criminal trials.

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