Tag Archives: Mental Health

Man in Distress Dies after Halifax Police Tase Him (March 30, 2020)

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.


Man Tased by Police After Setting Self on Fire Dies (Toronto, March 17, 2020)

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.


Québec Provincial Police Shoot and Kill Brandon Christian (47) in St-Georges (Feb. 2, 2020)

Sûreté du Québec  (SQ), Québec’s provincial police force, shot and killed Brandon Christian (47), a former minor league hockey player, on the evening of February 2, 2020, in St-Georges, near Québec City. The Bureau des enquetes independantes (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating.

According to the BEI, provincial police received a call at around 6:35 from a woman reporting that her ex-partner was in distress, wearing a mask, and holding a bat. The BEI reports that police found a man, who they claim seemed confused, on the streets on St-Georges. Police used pepper spray and a taser on the man before shooting and killing him. He was pronounced dead at hospital.

The BEI is not an independent investigation group as they rely on police forces for assistance in their investigations. Officers of the Québec City police force are assisting in the investigation into the killing of Brandon Christian by the SQ.


Quebec Provincial Police (SQ) Shoot and Kill Distressed Man in Shawinigan (Jan, 17, 2020)

Quebec’s provincial police force (Sûreté du Québec, SQ) shot and killed a man in the evening of January 17, 2020, in Shawinigan, a city northeast of Montreal. The Bureau des enquetes independantes (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, report that police responded to a 911 call around 9:30 PM with regard to a man who appeared to be distressed who was allegedly chasing a taxi.

According to the BEI, an SQ officer shot and killed the man because he “approached police in a menacing way.” No details have been provided publicly on what this rather vague description actually involved. Appearing to be menacing shot not be a reason to be shot and killed. This is another example of why police should not be called when someone is experiencing distress.

The BEI has assigned nine investigators to examine the case.


RCMP Shoot and Kill Distressed Man in Lytton, BC (Jan. 13, 2020)

RCMP shot and killed a man in Lytton, British Columbia, in the afternoon of January 13, 2020. The killing happened at a home in the 1000 block of McIntyre Road shortly after 2 PM. According to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, RCMP went to the home at around 8 AM in response to reports of a man in some type of distress. The IIO report that an emergency response team and a crisis negotiator were also called in.

An RCMP press release claims that “an interaction between the man and police” ended with shots being fired by the RCMP. No details have been provided publicly about the nature of the “interaction” or how many RCMP officers fired their weapons. No details have been provided about the nature of the distress the man was experiencing.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.


Man Dies During Traffic Stop Near Whitehorse, Yukon (Oct. 22, 2019)

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.


Clayton Donnelly (38) Dies After Being Tased by RCMP in Malakwa, BC (Oct. 28, 2019)

A 38-year-old man, identified publicly as Clayton Donnelly, died within hours of being tased by RCMP during an arrest in Malakwa, British Columbia (near Sicamous in the Okanagan), on October 28, 2019.

Ron MacDonald of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, reports:

“There was a driver who had been involved with the police earlier in a couple of other attempts to stop they vehicle he was driving. There was an interaction between the individual and the police where there was a struggle between the police and the individual. During that struggle, the male went unconscious.”

The IIO reports that the victim went into medical distress during the arrest. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died there.

Clayton Donnelly’s step-mother Kelly Harrison took to social media to say that Donnelly struggled for years with his mental health. Incredibly she had to respond to police sycophants who blamed Donnelly for being killed.

In a Facebook post she addressed hateful comments posted online about Donnelly. She also pointed out the lack of support available to people suffering from mental health issues. In her words:

“For those who like to condemn and judge and leave nasty messages on Facebook, maybe think a bit how you feel if it was your own loved one.

“If I see one more comment, that he is a criminal and he deserved it I will scream. He is not a criminal he is a tortured soul, who was suffering from mental illness. This story is also about a wonderful family, that for over two years tried to get him help with success!”

It might be noted that police continue to receive increased funding even as necessary social services and supports are underfunded or subjected to budget cuts.