Family members have identified Matthew Mahoney as the 33-year-old man shot multiple times and killed by Windsor police on March 21, 2018. They say that he struggled with schizophrenia and other mental health issues.
In a interview with CBC News, older brother Michael Mahoney says a lack of resources in healthcare and limits to the legal system failed his brother. He also noted the inappropriateness and unsuitability of police dealing with mental health issues. In his words:
“Our police aren’t trained to deal with people who are suffering the way my brother is. That can make it really hard when they encounter someone like him. You’re not sure if this person is dangerous or just needs a hug. I think my brother needed a hug that morning. I wish I could have been there.” (quoted in Taekema 2018)
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, confirmed on March 23 that Matthew Mahoney was shot by two officers who discharged firearms and “struck multiple times.” The SIU has identified eight witness officers in addition to the two subject officers, suggesting that at least ten officers confronted the victim on the street.
This leaves the family with many questions. Said Michael Mahoney:
“We definitely want to know what my brother was going through that morning. We want to know how the police became involved and we want to know that they did everything they could to deescalate the situation. Right now we’re just trying to focus on remembering Matthew the way we remember him and we’re trying not to think about that morning because your mind just races and there’s no answers right now.” (quoted in Taekema 2018)
He reports that his brother’s mental health struggles, developing as a teenager, worsened as he became an adult. While medications offered some help, he was extremely fearful of authorities, a not unreasonable feeling. Michael Mahoney relates:
“Being in the health care system can be extremely terrifying, extremely dangerous and he did everything in his life to try to avoid going back to hospital. Every decision he made was to try to avoid interactions with police or mental health services. They were his biggest fears.” (quoted in Taekema 2018)
Matthew Mahoney needed care and a hug not cops and bullets. Michael Mahoney is left to conclude: “The system just isn’t set up right to help people with extreme needs like my brother…This didn’t need to happen” (quoted in Taekema 2018). Even worse, in the end the system actively killed Matthew Mahoney.
Taekema, Dan. 2018. “Man Shot by Windsor Police Needed Help and a Hug, Not Bullets, Says Brother.” CBC News. March 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/matthew-mahoney-police-shooting-windsor-1.4590208