Category Archives: Mental Health

27-Year-Old Man Dies Following Forceful Arrest by Winnipeg Police (Sept. 30, 2019)

A 27-year-old man has died after being arrested by Winnipeg police. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harms to civilians in Manitoba, reports that on September 23 police officers responded to a call about a man in some distress who is said to have appeared confused and was yelling in an area near Assiniboine Avenue and Kennedy Street at around 12:42 AM. The IIU reports that police used force to arrest him. During the arrest the man became unresponsive and was taken to hospital in critical condition. The victim died in hospital on September 30.

This death again raises the question of why police, who respond, and quickly, with force are being sent to deal with health care crises. Police are not, and should not be, health care workers. This is at least the seventh through police action in Winnipeg in 2019.

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License to Kill: Killer Cop Elizabeth Cucheran Let Off by Crown for Hudson Brooks Killing

When it comes to police killings of civilians, the state protects the state. This is not surprising given that police are the force of brute violence (the state’s monopoly on violence) which always accompanies and underpins the state’s legislative (ideological) face. Law and force go hand in hand.

On July 18, 2015, RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran shot 20-year-old Hudson Brooks nine times outside the RCMP detachment in South Surrey, killing him. The Constable fired a dozen times at the youth, who was shirtless and shoeless and in some mental health distress. On September 18, 2019, more than four years later, the British Columbia prosecution service announced that charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon had been stayed against Constable Cucheran.

That the killer cop did not even face charges of murder or manslaughter for shooting an unarmed youth nine times and that it took more than four years to reach this decision shows the special manner with which police who kill are treated by the state in Canada.

Even more, in announcing their the prosecution service chose to emphasize that “the law is clear that even the mistaken belief in the need to use lethal force is a complete defence.” Killer cops always have this excuse, no matter how unjustified, ludicrous, or unsubstantiated, at their ready disposal. It is all they ever need to kill when they want, under whatever conditions they themselves alone decide. Police define the circumstances and they define reasonableness. Even if they are mistaken or lying. Few prosecutors, who depend on police for their cases (and who also uphold the state as do police), will ever challenge them. It is literally a license to kill.

This case earlier showed as well the way in which police lie after they kill someone to suggest that the victim posed a greater threat than they did. To blame the victim. Initial RCMP statements suggested that there had been an exchange of gunfire and an officer was also shot. This gave a public impression that Brooks had been armed and there had been some sort of gunfight between the victim and officers. It was later revealed that Constable Cucheran, in a lethal panic, had shot herself among the 12 shots she fired.


Kingston Police Shoot and Kill Evan Freeman (22) (Sept. 12, 2019)

Kingston police shot and killed 22-year-old Evan Freeman on the afternoon of September 12, 2019. Freeman was said, by witnesses, to be experiencing some mental health distress and harming himself when police killed him. He was both hit with a taser and shot by Kingston Police Department officers.

Police are not health care providers. A large proportion of people killed by police need health supports but are instead met with police violence.


Woman Falls to Death with RCMP Present in Surrey, British Columbia (Aug. 13, 2019)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating after a woman fell to her death in the presence of RCMP officers on August 13, 2019 in Surrey, British Columbia.

The IIO report that RCMP responded to an apartment complex in the 14000 block of 103A Avenue regarding a woman on the edge of a ninth floor balcony. Police entered the building, and, at some point, the woman fell. She died on the scene. No other details have been released publicly.

This is the second IIO investigation of RCMP in a matter of days. Police shot a man on 135A Street in Whalley on August 14.


RCMP Shoot and Kill Kyaw Din (54) in Maple Ridge, British Columbia (Aug. 11, 2019)

British Columbia RCMP shot and killed a man who has been identified by family members as Kyaw Din (54) at a Maple Ridge home on August 11, 2019. The killing took place at a home in the area of Colemore Street and 124 Avenue.

Family members have spoken publicly to say that the victim had a history of mental illness and had been between hospital and home over a period of some time. His brother Thant Din reports that Kyaw Din had forgotten or refused to take his medication the Sunday he was killed. According to Din: “In the past, my sister would call police, and police would come and take him to hospital. So today my sister called police, but he didn’t want to go” (quoted in Boynton 2019).

Din reports that his brother had barricaded himself in his room and refused to leave when police arrived. He says that his sister asked that he and other siblings come to come to Maple Ridge from Coquitlam to help translate between their brother and police (Boynton 2019).

Din recalls the frustration of conversations with police. In his words: “My sister told police, ‘Don’t do anything, they’re 15 minutes away, they’re on their way.’ When we show up, there’s police tape and we can’t go inside” (quoted in Boynton 2019).

He expresses his horror over police actions toward his brother: “They shot him. They shot him point blank. They unnecessarily killed someone” (quoted in Boynton 2019).

Kyaw Din’s sister Yin Yin reports that she was told by police to wait outside the home. She then heard three shots. Incredibly, three officers came outside of the home “about an hour later,” but left the scene before she could talk with them (Boynton 2019).

She reports publicly her conversation with police: “They asked me if my brother has a gun. He doesn’t have a gun. He doesn’t have a knife. He’s just in the room and I told the police he has a glass bottle that he might throw at you. I don’t want you to get hurt and I don’t want the police to shoot my brother” (quoted in Holliday 2019).

She insists that police deceived her and the family: “They lied to me. They promised me, ‘we would never shoot your brother, we deal with this all the time,’ and they shot him” (quoted in Boynton 2019).

She is left only to ponder, in sorrow: “For no reason, they shot him. Can you imagine? Brother was doing housework in the morning and now he is dead” (quoted in Holliday 2019)

Thant Din Thant tells reporters that his brother was sometimes loud and confrontational when not taking his medicine, but he never saw Kyaw Din become violent. According to Thant Din: “He never hit anybody. He might be screaming and yelling, but he never hit anybody” (quoted in Holliday 2019).

Thant Din is angry and wants to see police held accountable for what happened. As he puts it, poignantly: “We’re heartbroken. To have a mentally ill person shot in his own home? It’s terrible” (quoted in Boynton 2019).

It has been reported by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, that police officers also used a taser on the victim.

Police across Canada kill numerous people experiencing mental health issues every. Cops should not be responding to people in mental health crisis and resources should be moved from police to mental health and health care supports and resources.

Further Reading
Boynton, Sean. 2019. “Police Watchdog Investigating Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Maple Ridge.” Global News August 11. https://globalnews.ca/news/5753550/maple-ridge-officer-involved-shooting/

Holliday, Ian. 2019. “IIO Investigating after Police Shoot Mentally Ill Man in Maple Ridge.” CTV News August 11. https://bc.ctvnews.ca/iio-investigating-after-police-shoot-mentally-ill-man-in-maple-ridge-1.4545247


52-Year-Old Man Dies after Arrest in Kingston, Ontario (July 23, 2019)

A 52-year-old man has died after being arrested at a Harvey’s restaurant in Kingston, Ontario on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is examining the death. According to the SIU, Kingston police responded to a call at around 1:30 PM regarding a man allegedly “behaving erratically” at the Harvey’s restaurant at Princess and Regent streets. When officers arrived, police claim they found the man in the restroom and took him into custody. The man was later taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

No details have been released publicly about what “behaving erratically” meant, why police rather than health care experts were sent to the scene, or why the police arrested the man. No details have been provided either about what happened between the man being taken into custody and his later being transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police control all of this information and its means of release (or not).


Ontario Provincial Police Kill 48-Year-Old “Man in Distress” in Tecumseh (June 14, 2019)

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) shot and killed a 48-year-old man in Tecumseh, Ontario, near Windsor, on the evening of June 14, 2019. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, police entered a home at 605 Estate Park at around 10:15 PM. The SIU reports police were responding to calls of a “man in distress.” While interacting with the man a police officer shot discharged a firearm, striking and killing the man.

The SIU has assigned five investigators, including two forensic specialists, to the case. A post-mortem has been scheduled in London, Ontario.

Police in Canada kill numerous people experiencing mental distress each year.