Category Archives: Mental Health

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.

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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.


Indigenous Father Geoff Morris (41) Killed by Regina Police (May 4, 2019).

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for an independent investigation after the killing of Geoff Morris (41) by Regina Police Service officers on May 4, 2019. In a news release, FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat noted that,

“We have seen officers investigating their fellow officers and we all know how those investigations turn out. We are calling on the Regina Police Service to allow for an outside and independent oversight body to be a part of this investigation. We have been calling for this for years and these senseless police-related deaths keep happening.”

Morris was shot and killed by Regina police, during what cops say was a hostage situation. There are reasons to be skeptical about this given the lack of public information around another recent alleged hostage-taking in which two people were killed by RCMP in Surrey, British Columbia in March 2019. In that case it was later revealed that police had shot and killed both people, including the alleged hostage Nona McEwan. Notably, Regina Police chief Evan Bray would not say whether an alleged hostage was still being held when the shooting occurred.

Indeed, the police justification of events is being contradicted by Morris’ fiancé, Jasmine Brass, who says she was present when Morris was killed. In her words: “Honestly it wasn’t necessary for them to kill him, they could’ve just tased him” (quoted in Melnychuck 2019). She reports that Morris had been struggling with mental health issues and that she and her sister were with Morris trying to help him the morning he was killed by police.

Brass also reports that he became more agitated when police arrived, a not uncommon occurrence as the appearance of police typically heightens tensions and stress. She gives a chilling account, saying on facebook that she heard a “bang” and felt a splatter of blood at the moment of killing. Incredibly Brass reports that police shot Morris while she sat between his legs.

Morris was biological father to four children. He also took in six other children and raised them. One daughter, Tanisha Whiteman, remembers him as a good, loving man who struggled with anxiety issues. She asks why police acted so quickly to kill. In her words:

“That’s somebody’s father. That’s somebody’s son. That’s somebody’s brother, somebody’s nephew. He was loved by so many people. Why? Just like that, he’s gone. There could have been other ways that could have been handled. They didn’t have to take someone’s life away (quoted in Whitfield 2019a).

Heartbreaking words about the role played by police came from 12-year-old son Nakayoh Friday: “I want people to know that the people who were supposed to protect us aren’t protecting us. They are killing us. I don’t want other families to go through my pain” (quoted in Whitfield 2019b).

According to Regina Police chief Evan Bray, legislation requires that the Regina Police Service’s Major Crime unit investigates the shooting. Cops investigating cops. The officer involved in the shooting was a member of the patrol response remains on active duty.

Regina police claim that the killing of Morris is the first killing by an officer in the city since 1998. Police also claim that there have been four officer-involved shootings in the last 10 years, with none of those resulting in the death of the victim.

 

Further Reading

Melnychuck, Mark. 2019. “Fiancee of Man Shot by Regina Police Questions Why Officer Used Lethal Force.” Regina Leader-Post May 6. https://www.journalpioneer.com/news/canada/fiancee-of-man-shot-by-regina-police-questions-why-officer-used-lethal-force-308570/

Whitfield, Janani. 2019a. “’He Didn’t Deserve to Die Like That’: Man Killed by Regina Police Was a ‘Family Man.’” CBC News May 5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/hostage-taking-incident-regina-geoff-morris-1.5124018

Whitfield, Janani. 2019b. “Children of Man Shot Dead by Regina Police Say He Was Close to Turning Life Around.” CBC News May 7. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-shooting-police-death-1.5126084


Manitoba First Nations Police Kill Benjamin Richard (23) on Long Plain First Nation (April 2, 2019)

Manitoba First Nations Police shot and killed 23-year-old Benjamin Richard on Long Plain First Nation on the evening of April 2, 2019. The victim’s identity was confirmed publicly by his sister Patricia Richard. She reports that she called police after speaking with her mother because she believed her brother to be ‘freaking out’ and shooting out of the house where her mother lives.

Patricia Richard had hoped police would protect her brother, not shoot him. She is upset at how police handled the situation, believing it could have and should have ended differently.

She has since said that her mother told her: “They went rushing in there. Everything happened too quick. She said they didn’t have to [shoot him]. He wasn’t threatening anyone, he just snapped on himself” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

The victim’s niece, Tammy Smith, said she was outside the house in a pickup truck with Richard’s mother when three officers spotted Richard through a window and started shooting at him. She describes a chaotic, reckless, rush to lethal force. In her words: “I was backing up to see if I could see Ben, when all the shots came from the (police). I’m pretty sure they all unloaded their clips. We just started screaming” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

She echoed the family’s feelings of anger over how the situation was handled: “It should not have escalated to that point. They should have waited for more people. They should have tried to wait it out. They were all outside, shooting through the walls and windows. They never even entered the house…” (quoted in Rollason 2019)

Witnesses suggest that the victim was only firing his weapon into an empty field and the ceiling of the house. They say he posed no threat to anyone, but was simply upset. She relates: “His mother, last week, called the [police] to take him to the hospital so he could be assessed. But when they came and talked to him, they said he wasn’t a threat to anyone. Then a week later, they come back and shoot him” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Patricia Richard has said that in her view the officers were “trigger-happy.” She suggests: “They knew my brother needed help a few days before anything happened. He was unstable. Everyone saw the signs” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

And she concludes: “I believe what happened could have been 100 per cent preventable” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Smith remembers Benjamin Richard in these terms: “He was kind, caring and always thinking of others more than himself. The world lost a great man. My heart breaks” (quoted in Macdonnell 2019).

According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Manitoba, it was notified by Manitoba First Nations Police that officers had responded to a report of a man armed with a firearm in a residence at around 6 PM. During an encounter at least one office fired a weapon, striking the man. The victim, Benjamin Richard was pronounced dead on the scene. Three officers involved in the case are now on administrative leave.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “Man Shot Dead by First Nations Police Force in Manitoba, Family Says.” CBC News April 3. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-first-nations-police-long-plain-1.5082537

Macdonnell, Beth. 2019. “Man Dead after Officer-Involved Shooting on Long Plain First Nation.” CTV News April 3. https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/man-dead-after-officer-involved-shooting-on-long-plain-first-nation-1.4363800

Rollason, Kevin. 2019. “Officers Called ‘Trigger-Happy.’” Winnipeg Free Press April 4. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/officers-called-trigger-happy-508094702.html


Police Shooting Leaves Man Dead at Queensborough Landing Mall in New Westminster, BC (Feb. 24, 2019)

A police shooting has left a man dead at the Queensborough Landing mall in New Westminster, British Columbia, on Sunday, February 24 at around 9:40 PM.

According to the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the unit that examines cases of police harm in the province, police claim they responded to a report of a man with a firearm at the rear of the Walmart at 805 Boyd Street. The IIO reports that two officers at the scene fired their weapons. The encounter left the man dead. The IIO says it is investigating the cause of his death and whether the shots that caused the man’s death came from his own firearm or from those of the police at the scene.

It has been reported that the man was experiencing mental distress. No other information has been publicly released. It has not been independently confirmed that the victim had a weapon let alone discharged it.