With police under new microscope, mother of teen boy shot in 2018 wants answers
MONTREAL -- Two years later, each day’s routine activities still remind Tracy Wing of her son.
And this spring, as police work as been dissected and debated in a new way, the questions about Riley Fairholm’s death loom larger than ever over people in the Eastern Townships.
Fairholm was 17 when he was fatally shot by a Quebec police officer near his home in Lac Brome.
Saturday is the second anniversary of his death, and a vigil planned in the evening at Sûreté du Quebec detachment in Dunham is meant to “remind the SQ that we have not forgotten,” its organizers wrote.
“Riley deserved more than 61 seconds before 1 police officer decided that the only solution was a bullet to the head.”
Provincial police have been responsible for three shootings of men “in crisis” this year alone, the vigil callout says.
“The time is now to demand more training - psychological evaluations - body cams - transparency and accountability.”
No one has been searching for answers more than Wing, even—or especially—after provincial prosecutors announced last October that the officer who shot Fairholm wouldn’t face charges.
According to the prosecutor’s report, when police arrived on the scene that night in 2018, Riley was in crisis and brandishing a weapon that turned out to be a BB gun.
It took one minute from the time police arrived to when the boy was shot in the head.
“I don't think Riley knew that he only had 61 seconds,” says his mother.
“Riley was a great kid—he had a big heart. He had a lot of empathy and I miss him just terribly.”
Wing says Fairholm struggled with depression, but he seemed well in the weeks leading up to his death.
“At 1:42 I got a text message from him saying that he loved me, and I had a bad feeling,” she said.
She thinks much more could be done to prevent similar deaths in the future. She’d like to see police get better training to respond to mental-health calls so that they can de-escalate tense situations.
She also wants more transparency, especially from the BEI, Quebec’s police watchdog.
Wing also repeats the calls of many in recent years that police should be equipped with body cameras to record their behaviour.
On Saturday, “we're going to stand and remind them that one of their officers killed Riley, that I don't believe justice was served, that I'm looking for more accountability,” she said.
She also spearheaded a petition that was presented to the legislature last year.
In the meantime, Wing hasn’t yet received the coroner’s report into her son’s death.