Tag Archives: Mental Health

Man “Falls to Death” in Montreal Police Custody (July 30, 2020)

A 29-year-old man died in Montreal police custody on July 30, 2020. According to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Quebec, the man fell from the balcony of his 14th floor apartment after police allegedly took him there to receive some documents following his arrest. The BEI reports that the man had been arrested at around 2:30 that afternoon. According to the BEI, police claim the man threw himself off the balcony.

The BEI has assigned six investigators to examine the circumstances of the man’s death. The BEI is not an independent agency and relies on police from other forces to assist with investigations.


Clive Mensah Identified as Man Killed by Peel Police in November 2019

Clive Mensah, a 30-year-old Black man, has been identified as the person killed by Peel Regional Police in Mississauga, Ontario, on November 20, 2019. Mr. Mensah’s family came forward publicly with this information on July 21, 2020, partly inspired by the growing attention to police killings of Black and Indigenous people in Canada and the Black Lives Matter movement. Those mobilizations have brought a focus on police killings of people experiencing mental health crises or as part of police “wellness checks” (which are not about wellness at all).

They report that since their loved one’s killing in 2019, they have heard almost nothing from investigators with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). They are desperate for answers about why police killed their family member, who was unarmed and known to struggle with mental health issues.

Hospital records from the killing show that Mensah was “Tased approximately six times.” He was found lying on the ground and handcuffed by paramedics. The hospital report also records that paramedics faced a delay in reaching the victim because “police cruisers blocked roadway to scene.” Paramedics reportedly had to park between 15 to 18 meters away from where Mr. Mensah lay.

Here was the initial Killer Cops Canada report at the time:

“A 30-year-old man has died after being tasered by Peel Regional Police in Mississauga, Ontario (Greater Toronto Area), during an aggressive arrest.

According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, Peel Regional Police say they were called to Runningbrook Drive in Mississauga at around 3:15 AM on report of a “suspicious male causing a disturbance.” Officers allegedly encountered the man in the backyard of a residence and, according to the SIU, some type of “struggle ensued.”

SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon reports: “As part of the struggle, several use-of-force options were used, including the deployment of a conducted energy weapon.” The man was taken into custody and soon after lost consciousness. According to Hudon, the victim was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead shortly around 4:19 AM.

No other details have yet been released publicly, including the nature of force or compliance measures used by police against the victim during the fatal encounter and arrest.

This is the second death in Mississauga in months involving conducted energy weapons. The SIU is still investigating the death of a 34-year-old man when police used a stun gun against him on September 10, 2019. These are not “non-lethal” weapons as has been shown in numerous cases.”


Man Dies in Edmonton Police Custody (June 24, 2020)

A man has died in Edmonton police custody only a few hours after being arrested in the early morning of June 24, 2020. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating. It has been reported that the man was arrested for “public intoxication” after police responded to a call at a gas station near 51st Avenue and 122nd Street in the Lansdowne neighborhood at around 4 AM. Police claim the man “appeared to be on drugs” so it appears that this is another drug war death based on assumptions about appearance.

The man was arrested and taken to the Southwest Division station in Windermere. At around 7 AM, the victim was found unresponsive in his holding cell. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A spokesperson for Edmonton Police Service has said publicly that details could not be provided about how often the man was checked while he was detained in the holding cell.


Sûreté du Québec (SQ) Shoot and Kill 53-Year-Old Man in Lavaltrie (June 22, 2020)

Quebec’s provincial police force (Sûreté du Québec, SQ) shot and killed a 53-year-old man in Lavaltrie, Quebec (Lanaudière region), on June 22, 2020. The Bureau des enquetes independantes (Bureau of Independent Investigations, BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the killing.

The BEI report that provincial police were called to a home in Lavaltrie around 8:20 PM in response to an alleged domestic dispute between a man and a woman. Police removed the man from the home but escorted him back inside to retrieve his wallet and some belongings. According to the BEI, police claim that once inside the man took a knife and injured himself. In response, as is far too typical, an SQ officer shot him and killed him.

Once again, when faced with someone apparently in distress and believed to pose a harm to themselves, police take action to do worse harm to the person. They act hastily to kill them.

In the last two weeks alone, the BEI has opened six investigations into police violence, including the RCMP killing of Rodney Levi, a Metepenagiag First Nation man, in New Brunswick.

The BEI is not an independent investigative agency. They rely on other police forces to do their investigations. The Montreal police service will be taking part in the investigation of this killing. The very force that killed a 51-year-old man two days before.


Peel Police Kill Ejaz Ahmed Choudry (62) in Mississauga (June 20, 2020)

Peel Region police shot and killed 62-year-old Ejaz Ahmed Choudry on Saturday, June 20, 2020. He was reportedly shot five times in the back. Mr. Choudry, a Muslim man, was experiencing mental health crisis and needed support and care, not police primed to shoot to kill. He was a husband and father of four, the youngest of whom is only seven.

According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, reports that police were called to an apartment unit at 3425 Morning Star Drive, near Goreway Drive, at around 5 PM, to “check on the well-being of a man.” Family members have since said that Mr. Choudry suffered from schizophrenia as well as other illnesses. He was alone in the unit and did not pose a threat to the public or others. Family members have described him as harmless.

For an older man in crisis alone in his room, posing no threat to others, police sent multiple officers and a canine unit. A video taken by a witness and posted on twitter, shows police tactical units putting climbing a ladder and breaking into Mr. Choudry’s second floor apartment from the balcony. Three officers are shown kicking open the door and shouting into the residence. One can imagine the awful impact this might have on someone said to be in crisis. Several gunshots can be heard before all three officers even enter the apartment, again raising issues of the shoot first approach by police officers. This is one reason that they should not be sent out on mental health related calls.

Incredibly, police have sought to explain killing Mr. Choudry by suggesting they were concerned about his safety. Peel Constable Sarah Patten claims: “The state of crisis that he was in and the belief that he had access to weapons, yes, we believe that he was a danger to himself” (quoted in CBC News 2020). Patten makes the absurd statement that officers broke into his apartment “to check on his well-being” (quoted in CBC News 2020).

According to the SIU, police claim that once police entered the apartment unit, “an interaction occurred which included officers deploying a conducted energy weapon at the man, as well as firing plastic projectiles from an Anti-Riot Weapon Enfield” (quoted in CBC News 2020). Again, we must ask why police were doing a supposed wellness check with anti-riot weapons?

The mentality of police is reflected in this statement by Peel Regional Police Constable Akhil Mooken, who said, tellingly: “Communication was initiated with the man to try to communicate a peaceful surrender” (quoted in Yuen 2020). Surrender. This is the language of war. For someone needing health care supports.
Family Members Not Allowed to Help

Family members who were present say that Mr. Choudry had come to the door when other families had been removed from the unit but was frightened back in when he saw officers coming toward him. An entirely understandable response to seeing police coming at you.

Khizar Shahzad, a nephew, reports that he informed the supervising officer of the severity of his uncle’s condition and told the officer the man was frightened: “I said, ‘Hey, he’s scared of your uniform, he’s not scared of you’” (quoted in CBC News 2020). The family pleaded with police to allow them to speak with their loved one who did not speak English. Police refusal to allow this is common in cases where police have been called about someone in mental health distress. Family who know the person and how best to interact with them are removed and kept from participating. This often plays a part in deadly police actions.

Muhammed Choudry, also a nephew, implored police: “Let me go upstairs, let my dad go upstairs, let my brother go upstairs. Because we’ve done this before where he listens. He listens to us” (quoted in CBC News 2020).

Family members say Mr. Choudry had difficulty breathing and walking. Mr. Choudry died at the scene.

 

Demands for Review and Inquiry

The Muslim Council of Peel has called for an immediate review of police use of force, particularly during mental-health calls. They also want publicly available race-based demographic data on police shootings. As they note in a media release:

“A disproportionate number of racialized individuals including Black, Indigenous and Muslim are the victims of police shootings across Canada and right here in Peel Region” (quoted in CBC News 2020).

The council and family are demanding an independent public inquiry into the police killing of Ejaz Choudry. In their words:

“Given the video evidence and the testimony of family members, Peel police’s conduct in this matter was clearly excessive and requires nothing short of an independent inquiry unconnected to the SIU” (quoted in CBC News 2020).

Police are heard in the video shouting at Mr. Choudry to put a gun down. No gun was retrieved at the scene.

The SIU has assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to examine the police killing of Ejaz Choudry.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2020. “Family Identifies Man, 62, who was Shot and Killed by Police in Mississauga as SIU Investigates.” CBC News June 21. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/siu-police-shooting-mississauga-1.5621243

Yuen, Jenny. 2020. “Family Demands Inquiry into Shooting of Mentally Ill Man.” Toronto Sun June 21. https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/siu-to-investigate-fatal-police-shooting-in-mississauga


Edmundston Police Kill Chantel Moore, 26-Year-Old Indigenous Woman, During “Wellness Check” (June 4, 2020)

Edmundston Police (New Brunswick) shot and killed Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman of Tlaoquiaht First Nation, near Tofino, so-called British Columbia, during a so-called wellness check early in the morning of June 4, 2020. The family has reported that the victim was shot five times by police. Edmundston Police Force Inspector Steve Robinson told reporters that he did not believe that the officer in question attempted to use any non-lethal force. Chantel Moore was pronounced dead at the scene.

Chantel Moore’s grandmother, Nora Martin, is certain the killing is racist in nature. In her words: “When I first heard about it, that was my first thought: ‘This was racially motivated.’ We’ve been dealing with police brutality for a number of years. I know in my own family it’s been going on for a long time” (quoted in CTV News 2020).

The history of policing in Canada is one of racism and white supremacy at its core. Policing has played a central part in the dispossession, displacement, subjugation, control, killing, and genocide of Indigenous people and communities—has been central to the interlinking settler colonial capitalist projects. And policing continues to play a key part in maintaining those projects up to the present.

This is yet another, too common, case of police being the first sent out when people are believed to be in crisis or in need of a “wellness check.” Police should not be sent under these circumstances. They are not health care providers. Too often the outcome is police killing the person needing support or care. Police are not about wellness. Resources for health care, including mental health care, should be diverted away from police and used in community health care supports. Police budgets continue to grow as necessary health care services require more funding.

Police will be investigating police in this killing. Officers from Saint John will be part of the investigation as well as an as yet unnamed “independent agency” (which will in no way be independent given the involvement of police in the investigation).

 

Further Reading

CTV News. 2020. “’This Was Racially Motivated,’ Says Grandmother of Tofino Woman Shot and Killed by NB Police.” CTV News June 4. https://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/this-was-racially-motivated-says-grandmother-of-tofino-woman-shot-and-killed-by-n-b-police-1.4969770


Caleb Tubila Njoko (26) Dies After “Fall” From Balcony During London Police Operation (May 4, 2020) Black Lives Matter

It has been announced that Caleb Tubila Njoko, a 26-year-old Black man who reportedly fell from a 15th floor balcony during a police operation in London, Ontario, on May 4, 2020, has died. Mr. Njoko died on May 8, but his death was only confirmed by the Special Investigations Unit on June 3. There has been no public explanation for the delay in this.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating. They report that London police responded to 85 Walnut Street on May 4 at around 11:15 PM on a call of a person in distress. Officers entered an apartment on the 15th floor and, at some point, the victim “fell” from a balcony. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and died there four days later.

This is the second Black person to have been killed in what is reported publicly as a fall from a balcony during a police operation in Ontario in May alone. On May 27, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman, was killed in a “fall” from an apartment balcony in Toronto. Family members and witnesses report that she was shoved off the balcony by Toronto police. Because police control the information that is released when they kill, their version of events must be treated with skepticism and there is a real need to hear from witnesses, if any were present.

Notably, both of these deaths involved police interventions against someone in distress. Police are not suitable for mental health care or interacting with people in distress. Proper health supports and care are needed but are denied resources when those resources go instead to police budgets.

The SIU has assigned one subject officer and three witness officers to its probe. One might ask why the SIU has designated one subject officer if the incident was straightforwardly a “fall.”


Man Dies in RCMP Siege at Home in Chilliwack (May 23-24, 2020)

An RCMP siege at a home in Chilliwack, British Columbia, has left one man dead, The circumstances are still unclear, with reports shifting as the event unfolded over several hours overnight on the evening of May 23 and morning of may 24, 2020.

It has been reported that RCMP were called regarding a distraught man at a home in the 46000 block of Christina Drive, at around 5:30 PM on May 23. Initial reports said the man fired a shot or shots when police arrived. That has not been confirmed publicly. It has also been reported that more officers, an emergency response team, a crisis negotiator, and a police helicopter were also deployed to the scene. Nearby homes were allegedly evacuated.

The story is even less clear regarding a supposed interaction between the man and police, after about six hours, when police, for some reason fired shots as the man exited the home. He then ran back inside the home.

It is reported that a police robot was used to enter the home and search it, finding the man unresponsive. He died at the scene.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia is examining the events resulting in the man’s death.


Victim of Peel Police Killing Identified as D’Andre Campbell, A Black Man in Mental Health Crisis (April 6, 2020)

The 26-year-old killed by Peel Regional Police on April 6, 2020, has been identified by family as D’Andre Campbell, a Black man who experienced mental health issues. Police knew of his mental health struggles when they arrived at the home on Sawston Circle, in the area of Edenbrook Hill Drive and Bovaird Drive, in Brampton, Ontario. Police tased Campbell and shot him multiple times, according to family members who were present.

In a statement, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, reports that two officers tased the victim before one of the officers fired his gun multiple times.

D’Andre Campbell’s brother, Dajor Campbell has since said that his brother had mental health issues and that police had been to the home several times previously. In his words:

“Police have been to the house before, but nothing like this. That’s why I’m saying I’m confused. They came to the house 1,000 times, multiple times. I don’t know why this time they decided to shoot him.” (quoted in Freeman 2020)

Dajor Campbell says that, in fact, his brother was the one who called police and he cannot understand why police did not know how to interact with his brother on this occasion: “He’s the one that called them too, so how you gonna come into the house and shoot him. That doesn’t make sense” (quoted in Freeman 2020).

The family says that D’Andre Campbell’s mother and several younger siblings were in the home at the time and some of them witnessed the killing (Freeman 2020).

 

Further Reading

Freeman, Joshua. 2020. “Man, 26, Dead After Being Shot by Police in Brampton.” CP24 April 6. https://www.cp24.com/mobile/news/man-26-dead-after-being-shot-by-police-in-brampton-1.4885134


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.