SHERBROOKE, Que.- An expert told coroner Géhane Kamel’s investigation into the death of a 17-year-old boy who had been shot dead by police that the use of deadly force by the Quebec provincial police during the incident was justified.
The testimony was the latest to be heard by the coroner investigating the death of Riley Fairholm, who was killed by the Sûreté du Québec while in distress and brandished an air pistol in early July 2018.
The entire interaction in the parking lot of an abandoned restaurant in Lac-Brome, Estrie, lasted just over a minute, with an experienced police officer repeatedly telling Riley Fairholm to drop his gun before one of the six police officers present shot the teen. the head.
Bruno Poulin, a use of force adviser for the Provincial Police Academy and often an expert in investigations, told coroner Géhane Kamel there was no other alternative for officers when faced with an assailant who was not in custody. Letting him wander was not an option.
He advised that the use of deadly force was consistent with what officers are taught.
Mr Poulin said that if the gun is pointed at the police, they are entitled to shoot. “It’s a shame, but we don’t have much leeway if someone points a gun at us,” he said.
One of the solutions suggested by Mr Poulin was the proposal to equip the police with a ballistic shield during firearms-related interventions. He also suggested better training for police officers in training at the academy in Nicolet, Quebec, on police suicide.
Earlier Monday, a researcher from the Quebec Police Academy gave the investigation an insight into the phenomenon of police suicide, in which a person who wants to end his life provokes a confrontation with the police.
Another expert said earlier on Monday that the longer a police intervention lasts, the greater the chance of a peaceful outcome.
Michael Arruda is a retired Montreal police officer and crisis intervention specialist. He said Monday that his crisis response training is encouraging officers to expand the operation if possible to allow time for reinforcements, non-lethal weapons and other partners.
“What we know is that if we can extend this intervention to 10, 15, 20 minutes, we’re more likely to have a peaceful end,” Arruda said. Because we can call in reinforcements, deploy intermediate (non-lethal) weapons, deploy external partners and plan the intervention.”
He explained that these are the techniques of “de-escalation” and that the goal is to buy time to put everything in its place so that when it’s time to intervene, it’s a peaceful end.
Mr Poulin nuances that in the current case the agents had no window to use the de-escalation techniques. He also said that medium-weight weapons like a stun gun or sprayer weren’t options for someone with a gun.
“If the threat is a gun, lethal force, the response must also be a gun,” Poulin said.
As the hearings concluded Monday, Riley Fairholm’s mother, Tracy Wing, thanked coroner Kamel for helping answer some of the questions that have haunted her since her son’s death nearly four years ago. She hopes that people will realize that these kinds of exercises are important for the relatives of people who have been killed by the police.
But Ms. Wing still strongly believes that if the authorities had taken the time to talk to her son, the outcome might have been different. Little did her son know he had just over a minute before the police would fire, she said.
“But I know that Riley was seen and shot in 61 seconds, even after hearing all the testimonials there wasn’t enough time today,” Ms Wing said.
Coroner Kamel’s report should be released in the fall.