Coroner wants police to get more training, tasers, following shooting death of Magloire
A coroner is recommending police officers get more training in dealing with mental illness, and have more access to tasers, in the wake of the shooting death of Alain Magloire.
Montreal police shot and killed Magloire in 2014. He had smashed several windows with a hammer at a hostel, and was still holding the hammer when he was confronted by police a few minutes later.
Video footage of the last moments of Magloire's life shows that a police officer struck Magloire with a car, and that officers then shot him four times.
During the inquest by coroner Luc Malouin, several officers said they feared for their lives when confronting Magloire, while other witnesses said that Magloire was not holding the hammer in a threatening fashion.
A police technology teacher testified that police should have tried to defuse the situation and waited for officers with a taser to subdue Magloire. An officer with a taser arrived less than one minute after Magloire was shot.
Montreal police only have access to 75 tasers, while the Toronto police department has 700.
Malouin's other recommendations include training police officers to deal with high-stress situations, and for the provincial government to create clinics to treat people with mentall illness, especially those without permanent homes.
"What we teach a police officer is what he will do on the street," said Malouin.
"If you don't show him how to react in that kind of situation, he will never learn that and he will not be able to do that when necessary."
The director of the Old Brewery Mission, Matthew Pearce, spoke at the inquest.
He said police currently do not get adequate training in dealing with those with mental illness.
"It does not appear that police are getting the kind of training that gives a whole set of tools, a whole set of approaches when they're dealing with someone in a crisis situation. They seem to have one default mechanism, which is control and restrain," said Pearce.
Report details Magloire's final hour
In his report, Malouin explains how Magloire got into several arguments with hostel tenants in the morning, and was told he would have to talk to police to discuss damage to a bathroom.
At that point Magloire used a hammer to smash the receptionist's window, and two other windows as he left the building.
With police already on the way the manager followed Magloire as he walked along De Maisonneuve St., St Denis St, and Ontario St., before being confronted by two officers as he turned south on Berri.
The officers, with guns drawn, followed Magloire on foot, ordering him to stop walking and to put down his hammer.
A passerby told Magloire to listen to police, but Magloire yelled he would only do so when they fired at him.
Two more police officers arrived and tried, without success, to use pepper spray and a baton to stop him.
At this point two more police cars arrived, and one of the drivers struck Magloire with his car.
Magloire managed to jump out of the way and land on his feet, while one of the police officers jumped and landed on the ground beside Magloire.
When Magloire raised his hammer as if to hit the fallen police officer, Constable Brassard shot him four times.
Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said the force acknowledges there is room for improvement, but says there have been changes made in the past few years, including increasing patrols with social workers.
"We've done some training, for example in 2012 we made 2,000 emergency calls which police were answering to improve themselves, to be better. We did the same thing in 2015 – more than 2,000 calls were answered as a training," he said.
The force has a program where police officers get trained specifically for crisis situations.
Lafreniere also said the force has in its possession more than 80 Tasers, but uses 38 regularly. The others are kept as backups.