Calgary officer justified in fatal shooting of man having mental crisis: ASIRT

CALGARY — Alberta's police watchdog says a Calgary officer was justified in the shooting death of a man having a mental breakdown two years ago.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says in a release that officers were attempting to get the 43-year-old man medical help.

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The man had declining mental health due to a head injury and had been assessed and discharged from hospital in the days before the January 2018 shooting.

ASIRT says a concerned neighbour called police to an apartment building but officers were unable to persuade the screaming man to come out of his unit.

It says officers gave the man time to calm down and hoped to convince him to voluntarily go with them under the Mental Health Act.

The agency says that changed when the man made threats to kill people, then jumped from a balcony with an axe and a knife while advancing on an officer.

The officer shot the man once in the torso and he later died in hospital.

Toxicology tests later showed the man had cannabis and alcohol in his system.

"In the vast majority of cases involving a person in the midst of a mental health crisis, intervention, apprehension under the Mental Health Act, and a social-medical approach may be what is called for," ASIRT said in the release Wednesday.

"It could be a critical mistake and naive, however, to approach these cases assuming that a mentally ill person is necessarily harmless.

"When the man armed himself and began threatening to kill people, the nature of the encounter changed."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020

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