A 28-year-old man experiencing distress died after he was tased by police on March 30, 2020 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
According to the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm in the province, Halifax Regional Police responded to a call regarding a man harming himself early in the morning of March 30. Police entered a home and an officer tased the man. According to SIRT, this was an attempt “to prevent the man from further harm”—an odd statement given that a taser represents the inflicting of harm. The man was taken to hospital where he died.
This is the third person who has died in an encounter with police while experiencing distress, and the second who was tased by police, this month alone. Police should not be deployed to confront people who are experiencing mental distress or health care crises.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating the death of a man who was tased by Toronto police after allegedly setting himself on fire. According to the SIU, Toronto police went to the intersection at Dundas Street East and Church Street at 8:43 AM after reports of a man pouring some type of accelerant on himself and setting himself on fire. The SIU report that police officers attended a nearby convenience store and had “an interaction which included deployment of a conducted energy weapon.” The man was then taken into custody. The victim was transported to St. Michael’s Hospital for treatment and later died there.
The SIU has assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to examine the circumstances involved in the man’s death.
No other details have been released publicly. It has not been explained why police decided to tase someone who may have needed immediate medical assistance and appeared to have been in distress. This is another example of why police should not be deployed to respond to people in health crisis or distress.
A 51-year-old man died during a chase by police in Windsor, Ontario, on January 3, 2020. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians, is investigating the death. The SIU reports that the incident began on in the evening of January 3, when a city police officer began following a vehicle they suspected was stolen. According to the SIU, at some point the vehicle hit a parking sign, and the driver and a passenger then got out and left he scene. The SIU reports that police quickly arrested the driver, but the passenger entered a nearby rooming house where he went into unspecified medical distress. The man was pronounced dead at the rooming house.
No details have been provided publicly regarding why police thought the vehicle was stolen. No details have been provided about the nature of the chase undertaken by police. It has not been reported publicly how much time the victim spent inside the rooming house or the nature of any encounter with police before or during his time inside. The nature of the victim’s medical distress has also not been reported publicly.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating a fatal shooting involving police in Exeter, Ontario, in the evening of December 3, 2019. Few details are yet available including the number of victims, the police force involved, or the nature of the police actions beyond the shooting. It has been reported that at least 10 police cruisers were on scene on Simcoe Street. Witnesses have reported hearing either a gunshot or gunshots.
The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm in the province, is investigating after a man drowned during a chase by police in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. The RCMP claim that the incident began at around 3 AM on the morning of November 28, 2019, following a call from a local business about an allegedly naked man cleaning off what the caller believed to be blood at a nearby car wash.
RCMP officers reportedly located the man and a chase ensued. The man allegedly ran into a river while being pursued by police and drowned.
No other information has been released publicly including any detail about the actions of police during their pursuit or what other actions were taken to interact with the man.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating after a man died from a fatal gunshot during a traffic stop on a highway south of Whitehorse, Yukon. Yukon RCMP claim they had been asked to check on the well-being of a 48-year-old man. They allegedly conducted a traffic stop after seeing the man driving on the highway but claim that they heard a shot coming from the vehicle as they approached. The man was reported dead at the scene.
Police should not be the first response for people in mental health crisis. A large proportion of people killed by police in Canada are experiencing mental health crisis at the time that police confront them. Yukon has no independent oversight body for investigating police harm to civilians.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating a fatal collision in New Tecumseth (north of Toronto) resulting from a police pursuit on September 16, 2019. According to the SIU, an Ontario Provincial Police officer was operating a police vehicle in the New Tecumseth area at about 11:40 PM. The officer allegedly observed a Pontiac and began to follow the vehicle. No reason has been given publicly for why the officer took note of the vehicle or decided to pursue it.
At some point the Pontiac became involved in a collision with a Volkswagen in the area of 20th Sideroad and 5th Line. Two women in the Volkswagen, the 23-year-old driver and a 36-year-old passenger, were taken to hospital where the passenger was later pronounced dead. A woman who was a passenger in the Pontiac was also taken to hospital with injuries.
The SIU has assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to this case. At time of writing one subject officer has been designated.