Category Archives: Mental Health

Family Say Montreal Police Brutally Beat Koray Celik: Refute Police Account of His Death

Koray Kevin Celik (28) died during a police intervention at his family’s Île-Bizard home one year ago. On March 6, 2018, his family organized a vigil outside the Pierrefonds police station to commemorate their loved one and raise some troubling questions about police actions, and accounts of their actions, in Koray Celik’s death. Celik’s parents, Cesur and June, say their son needs to be remembered and what happened to him needs to be discussed publicly. And this discussion needs to happen loudly and often until there is some change (Feith 2018).

Koray Kevin Celik, 28, died during a police intervention at the family’s Île-Bizard home one year ago when the young man was experiencing some distress. Said Cesur Celik: “My son was in crisis and was in a vulnerable state. When the police walked in, he was standing. When they left, they carried his body out. He lost his life in their hands, in front of our eyes.” (quoted in Feith 2018).

Celik acknowledged that the parents called the police seeking help and assistance. The call was made a bit before 2 AM. The parents did not want him their son to hurt himself or to leave the house (Feith 2018). They now express regret at having called police at all.

What happened during the police intervention is under investigation. Few details have been made public. According to Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the body that examines police interventions connected to deaths or injuries in the province, Montreal police responded to a call regarding a distressed man. The official story says that upon arriving at the house in Île-Bizard, Koray Celik became aggressive and suffered a fatal heart attack while police tried to control him (Feith 2018).

Cesur Celik, who says he witnessed the interaction in his home, rejects the bureau’s public version of events. He says four officers “brutally and viciously beat” his son before he died (2018). The family is considering legal action against the Montreal police force. They have tried to see a police incident report, autopsy, or coroner’s report but their efforts have been thwarted at each turn. The lack of information has added to the family’s grief. Says Cesur Celik: “We’ve been living with this nightmare ever since. One year later and there is still nothing. How can that be?” (quoted Feith 2018).

The Montreal police force (SPVM) has refused to comment on what happened the night Koray Celik died. Since June 2016, the BEI has investigated 72 cases. These include 37 fatal police interventions and five deaths that occurred during police detention (Feith 2018).

At the March 6 vigil, family and friends held signs reading : “Justice for Koray”; “We will not go away”; “The law applies to everyone” (Feith 2018).


Further Reading

Feith, Jesse. 2018. “A Year After Fatal Police Intervention in Île-Bizard Questions and Pain Linger.” Montreal Gazette. March 6.


Inquest into Killing of Michael David Perrault by Edmonton Constable Wayne Haltli Concludes

Michael David Perrault (31) was shot and killed by Edmonton Police Constable Wayne Haltli on May 18, 2015, during a traffic stop. A fatality inquiry that wrapped up over the last week of February 2018 made several recommendations focusing on the need to make crisis intervention and de-escalation training mandatory for police officers in Alberta. It was also recommended that Edmonton police pursue the “zero death” mandate arising from the inquiry into the killing of Sammy Yatim by Toronto police officer James Forcillo. Police are not required to adopt any of the recommendations and as is typically the case in such circumstances in Canada they will not do so here.

The inquiry reported that Michael David Perreault was in mental health crisis at the time police encountered and killed him. The inquiry also reported he had a long history of mental health issues and substance use troubles which may have been exacerbated by the health care system and doctors. He had been prescribed medications for a range of issues including depression and chronic pain from a number of accidents and workplace injuries.

Constable Haltli and his partner, Constable Jeffrey Park, were members of Edmonton’s Specialized Traffic Apprehension Team (STAT) when they responded to a 911 report of a suspected impaired driver in the city’s Beverly neighbourhood. Perreault’s car had stopped in the curb lane on Victoria Trail near 118 Avenue when the constables approached it. Constable Park reportedly reached into the car to try to take the keys out of the ignition when Perreault allegedly grabbed his arm. Park punched Perreault in the head several times during the encounter. It is alleged that at some point Perrault retrieved a shotgun and managed to shoot Park in the leg. It is claimed that he excited the vehicle when he was shot in the head and killed by Constable Haltli.

An investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, had already cleared the officers. ASIRT found, not surprisingly given their history,  that the officers used reasonable force. No further word on whether punching someone repeatedly in the head over a traffic stop is reasonable force. Or a reasonable way to treat someone in distress.

Notably, Perrault had been targeted numerous times by Edmonton police officers and, perhaps quite justifiably, felt “cops hated him” and had singled him out for scrutiny, according to the inquiry report. The day of his killing he was apparently concerned that police were outside his home.

Family of Gordon Couvrette Says They Warned North Bay Police of Heart Condition Before He was Tased and Killed

The family of Gordon Couvrette (43), who was tased and killed by North Bay police, disputes the police account of their activities. They also say they warned police that Couvrette had a heart condition and that tasing him could be fatal. This according to a report by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) which is investigating the killing. It is reported that Couvrette died of a heart attack.

Police claim they were called to the scene of a domestic incident early on the morning of February 22, 2018. A friend close to the Couvrette family, Emma Higgins, disputes that account of the situation. In her words, as reported by the SIU:

“He [Couvrette] woke up from sleep delirious from his bipolar medication and thought someone broke in so he started yelling trying to scare the ‘intruder’ protecting his girlfriend. She and her son told the cops that they can’t taze him he’s bipolar and on medication for it and his heart can’t take it and that he was doing no harm.”

Despite the words of those who knew and lived with Couvrette police moved to arrest the man. In the course of the arrest they used a taser.

What Higgins reports is additionally disturbing. She adds that not only did police tase him, but police “held him down and tazed him in the heart.”

Gordon Couvrette was taken to the North Bay Regional Health Centre where he was pronounced dead.

The SIU is still investigating the killing. They report that one subject officer and seven witness officers have been designated. The post-mortem took place February 23, 2018, in Sudbury.


SIU Investigating After Woman “Falls” from Roof During Encounter with Police

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the death of a 28-year-old woman in Mississauga during an encounter with police on the afternoon of February 22, 2018. According to the SIU, the Peel Region Police were called to a townhouse complex at around 4 PM in response to a reported “woman in distress.” The SIU claim that a short time later the unidentified woman fell from the roof to the ground below. She was later pronounced dead in hospital. The SIU reports that four investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to this case. No further details have been released publicly.


Shooting a Man in Distress After 30 Seconds Ruled “Not Gratuitous” and “Measured” as Cops Who Killed Chad Murphy Let Off

Police in Canada kill a disproportionate number of people in mental distress. They continue to be deployed to engage with people experiencing mental distress despite the fact that history shows that police respond to those situations with a very quick use of lethal force.

In the case of the killing of Chad Murphy (45), it is estimated that from the moment Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers opened the door to Murphy’s basement apartment in Île-Perrot, it took only 30 seconds for police to fatally shoot him.

On Monday, February 12, 2018, Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) announced it will not be filing charges against any of the officers involved in shooting and killing Chad Murphy on October 2, 2016. The SQ had been notified by Murphy’s sister Sharon that he was distressed and suicidal after fleeing in anger from a family dispute. She said at the time that she made the call to get him help not to get him killed.

Officers allegedly tried to talk with Murphy through his apartment door before opening it with a key provided by a neighbor. The DPCP report says officers saw Murphy sitting on his living room floor with a knife in hand and when he saw the officers he started cutting himself. When he stood up and walked toward the door the police shot and killed him. Thirty seconds to interact with and kill a man.

The DPCP ruled that in shooting a man in distress who was harming himself, after only 30 seconds of interaction, the officers involved did not use excessive force and should not face criminal charges. The DPCP statement said: “A legally acceptable use of force is one that is not gratuitous and is applied in a measured way. The intervention was legal and is based primarily on the duty of the police officers to ensure the safety and security of others.” The report does not say that Murphy was using his knife in a way that threatened anyone other than himself. It does not say how many shots police fired.

This is pure propaganda, copaganda. Shooting someone in distress and harming only himself is described as measured. And it does not show how the safety and security of others, the public for example, was threatened. This decision is the state protecting the state.

The DPCP’s decision to not lay charges in the killing of Chad Murphy is based on the investigation by the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. The BEI is not independent and relies on police forces for their forensic investigation.

Since June of 2016, the BEI has investigated 72 cases. This includes 37 fatal police interventions and four deaths that occurred during police detention. Of all of the investigations completed and turned over to prosecutors so far, none have led to charges against a single officer. The state does indeed protect the state.


Shocking Video of Pierre Coriolan’s Killing by Montreal Police Released as Family Sues City

We have written extensively on the lack of proper public reporting of police killings of civilians in Canada, the fact that police control the flow of information and what is released publicly, and the lack of truly independent and autonomous oversight of police in Canada. Not all provinces in Canada have oversight agencies at all to investigate cases of police harm to civilians and those that exist are not truly independent or autonomous. Some, like the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) in Quebec rely on active police force members for investigations.

These facts were put fully, and painfully and violently, on display on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, as the family of Montreal police shooting victim Pierre Coriolan announced that they are suing the City of Montreal over the “brutal and excessive” police intervention in which their loved one was killed by officer on June 27, 2017. The family also released a horrific video  of the police killing taken by a neighbor on a cellphone and passed to the family recently. It shows Coriolan being shot approximately 45 seconds into the police intervention. Lawyers for the Coriolan family suggest that the entire direct encounter lasted about one minute and ten seconds, during which time multiple weapons were used against the victim, including after he had been shot by police and was on the ground.

Pierre, Coriolan, a 58-year-old Black immigrant from Haiti, was shot and killed by in the hallway outside his apartment after police reportedly responded to calls about a man yelling and smashing things inside his apartment on Robillard Avenue near St-André Street, in the city’s gay village.

The killing again raises issues of police violence, poverty, racism, and mental health issues. In addition, there have been concerns about the information provided publicly by police and the BEI regarding the killings of civilians by police.


The Video

The four minute cellphone video, recorded by the neighbor, an eyewitness to the killing, shows a chaotic scene in the hallway of the apartment building. Officers apparently use plastic bullets, a taser, and their firearms against Coriolan. He was allegedly holding some object, variously described as a screwdriver or a knife.

The BEI have reported in a statement released at the time of the shooting that police first received 911 calls about Coriolan making noise in his apartment at about 7 PM. The cellphone video begins at 7:30 PM. It is not certain from the video how long officers had been on the scene at that point or what their engagement with Coriolan involved up to that point.

The first five seconds of the video are audio only, without recorded video images. The audio records what is believed to be a gun firing a plastic bullet, followed by the crackling sound of a taser having been fired. Five officers then become visible with weapons drawn. They are crowded into the hallway, their backs to the camera. Other officers off-camera can be heard yelling from around a corner in the hallway.

Pierre Coriolan comes into view eight seconds into the video. He appears to exit his apartment and walk toward the officers. Very soon after he moves from his apartment two or three gunshots are heard, but the image is obscured as the neighbor with the camera ducks somewhat into his apartment. When the camera focuses back on the hallway, an officer is heard yelling, “À terre! (Hit the ground!).”

Coriolan is in view, on his knees, with four officers visible, and still pointing weapons at him. The victim is heard telling the officers, in French, “Pas capable (I can’t).”

At that point, one of the officers is heard, incredibly, asking a colleague in French, “Do you have another shot?” After an unintelligible response, the officer yells, “Take the other shot.”

At that point, two shots ring out. It is not clear what has been fired, plastic bullets or live ammunition.

In response to the gunshots, Pierre Coriolan collapses fully on the ground. Only his legs are visible in the frame. Only then is an officer heard to yell, “Knife.”

A first officer approaches Coriolan and kneeling beside him, appears to search for a weapon, rather than offering any medical care or attention. Shockingly, another officer then approaches Coriolan, extends a telescopic baton, and swings it twice with heavy force toward the victim’s arm. Coriolan is heard to grunt in pain.

Officers lower their weapons, and one is heard speaking into his radio to say, “A man, possibly injured by gunshot.” Clearly they knew he had been hit and injured.

The officers are standing talking to each other calmly. One says, “It’s a screwdriver he had.” Another officer says, “No, it was a knife.” Only then are officers heard saying, “He’s injured. He’s hit.”

Coriolan’s legs can be seen convulsing as one officer says the stricken man is still breathing. Another officer responds saying, “No, he’s not breathing.”

The video ends when an officer demands that witnesses in the hallway get back into their apartments. Pierre Coriolan would be pronounced dead later that evening in hospital.


Disturbing Actions Leave Disturbing Questions

Pierre Coriolan’s killing was met with protests and calls for action by community activists and organizers, including Black Lives Matter organizers. Community activists Will Prosper and Maguy Métellus joined the family’s lawyers and Joanne Coriolan, the victim’s niece at the press conference releasing the video and announcing the family lawsuit. The lawsuit was launched by two of Coriolan’s sisters who were not present at the news conference. They are seeking a total of $163,426 in damages.

Prosper, a former RCMP officer, expressed shock and disbelief upon first viewing the video. In his words: “The first question I asked myself is, ‘Why don’t you take the time?’ There’s no rush” (quoted Rukavina in 2018).

Prosper raised the question on everyone’s mind since the killing last year, which is why a man was shot and killed for making noise in his own apartment. As Prosper points out: ”The only thing Pierre was threatening was his own apartment. He was not a threat to anybody else” (quoted in Rukavina 2018).

Prosper was even more stark in his questioning of why a kneeling man was viewed as such a threat. He asks: “What is the threat of a black man kneeling down? It’s a firing squad he’s facing” (quoted in Rukavina 2018).

The only time on the video recording that police even directly speak to Coriolan is when they order him to the ground after he has already been shot. Says Propser: “You see there’s no communication, nothing mentioned to him as he’s kneeling down” (quoted in Rukavina 2018). After the man has been shot and is on the ground police do not even ask after his condition. Instead they hit him with a telescopic baton.

Alain Arsenault, a member of the family’s legal team, said that they have little faith in the BEI investigation and that said a lawsuit is the best available avenue to obtain justice for Coriolan. It may be the only way that the public can find out any meaningful information about the actions of police.

Arsenault said that the decision to release the video was prompted partly by frustration over the slow pace of the investigation and the oversight agency’s refusal to provide updates to the family. These are repeated concerns expressed by family members of people killed by police across Canada.


The video can be found here:


Further Reading

Rukavina, Steve. 2018. “Family of Montreal Man Fatally Shot by Police Sues Over “Brutal Intervention.” CBC News. February 7.


Lone Subject Officer Designated in Police Killing of Babak Saidi (43) Outside OPP Detachment on Dec. 23, 2017

Babak Saidi was shot and killed by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) outside their Morrisburg detachment only minutes after his father dropped him off for a scheduled probation check-in on December 23, 2017. While little has been reported publicly about the details of the killing, as it rarely is in cases of police killings in Canada, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has designates a lone subject officer in their investigation. This means they believe that a sole officer fired the shot(s) that struck and killed Babak Saidi that day. As is unfortunately the standard practice in Canada the officer responsible for the killing has not been identified publicly. Saidi’s killing is being investigated by the provincial police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, which has assigned four investigators and three forensic specialists to the case.

The 43-year-old Saidi, whose was born in Iran but came to Canada as a refugee with his family, had been diagnosed with late onset schizophrenia and social paranoia according to his family. They are looking for answers and for mechanisms to address the ongoing use of violence by police toward people experiencing mental health issues.

In the words of Babak Saidi’s sister, Elly Saidi:  “This is yet another shocking example of a lethal police response to an unarmed person with mental health disabilities. I want everyone to learn from this tragic experience” (quoted in Duffy 2018).

Babak Saidi had gone to the same OPP station more than 30 times — every week for nine months — in 2017. Elly Saidi says that the family remains very much in the dark about why his routine check-in at the police station so quickly turned deadly. In her words “It would be good to get an explanation for what happened. I don’t know what instigated it: Why this time was so different than every other time?” (quoted in Duffy 2018).

Saidi’s father, Mehrab Saidi (83), has reported hearing “multiple gunshots” while in his car, moments after dropping off his son at the detachment. He has also said that he was instructed by police to wait at a nearby coffee shop for more information and was only notified of his sons death hours later.

Elly Saidi is chief executive of United World Voices, a registered charity in Ottawa that works with homeless youth and vulnerable women. She says her brother was only diagnosed with schizophrenia early in 2017 as the family had not been able to get a diagnosis for him. In her words: “We told lawyers for many years he needs help. Like a lot of people in his position, they fall through the cracks. He should have been assessed and treated much earlier. We knew there was something wrong with him, but it was hard to get anyone to listen. That’s the frustrating part” (quoted in Duffy 2018).

In the view of Elly Saidi her brother should not have died in the encounter:

“What is beyond doubt is that OPP members involved in this tragedy were unable to peacefully de-escalate this situation. The OPP resorted to a lethal response to an unarmed individual with mental disabilities. I know that things can escalate from zero to 100 in a few seconds with mentally ill people. The police need to know how to deal with that, how to de-escalate and contain the situation.” (quoted in Duffy 2018)


Interestingly, Babak Saidi had publicly reported feeling harassed by local police in Brockville, Ontario, where he lived. During a 2003 court hearing, Saidi, then 29, told a judge that police in Brockville “have been on my ass for 10 years” (quoted in Duffy 2018). He continued, telling Ontario Court Justice Charles Anderson : “They don’t like me and I don’t like them” (quoted in Duffy 2018).

In 2017 Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director compiled records showing that 142 people were fatally shot during interactions with police between January 1990 and December 2016 (Duffy 2018). Calls for de-escalation training have been made repeatedly in studies and reviews on police violence and mental health with no meaningful improvements. At the end of the day police remain the unaccountable monopoly on violence acting with impunity in communities.


Further Reading

Duffy, Andrew. 2018. “Babak Saidi was Dropped off at OPP Detachment for Routine Check-In—Minutes Later He was Shot Dead.” Ottawa Citizen January 31.