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‘A very sad situation’: Psychiatrist who treated victim of police shooting testifies at fatality inquiry

A Calgary man who was killed after he attacked undercover police officer was likely experiencing “extreme agitation” associated with drug withdraw, according to the testimony of a psychiatrist. 

Const. Ray Davies killed Yacin Osman on April 9, 2018, after Osman attacked with a knife, not knowing his victim was an undercover police officer. 

A fatality inquiry is underway before Justice Indra Maharaj, who is tasked with coming up with recommendations in hopes of preventing similar deaths. 

The hearing is being conducted by inquiry counsel Christine Nugent with Calgary Police Service lawyer Annie Alport and Maharaj also asking questions of witnesses.  

‘A very sad situation’

On the night he was killed, Osman, who suffered from drug addiction, was high on methamphetamine, according to testimony on Tuesday from a toxicologist.

That night, the 27-year-old left his home in search of drugs but had no money. His roommates and girlfriend later told investigators he was known to steal to get money for drugs. 

On Wednesday, Day 2 of the fatality inquiry, the judge heard from Dr. Bernard Sowa, a retired psychiatrist who worked with the Alex’s Pathways Program.

Sowa last saw Osman in mid-February, about two months before he died. 

Sowa said Osman was in a good mood, thinking clearly and was considering going to rehab for his addiction issues. 

Sowa said Osman had “been using for years” and called his patient’s death “a very sad situation.”

The attack

On Tuesday, Davies testified he was working undercover in Bridgeland on the night of the shooting and had taken a 15-minute break in a nearby abandoned school parking lot to relieve himself and use his phone.

While there, he said Osman opened the door to his unmarked car and attacked the officer with a knife, demanding money. 

Davies said he managed to get out of his car and pulled his gun from his right hip.

Osman was swinging the knife at the officer’s face and neck and was “inches” away, according to testimony from Davies. 

The officer testified he punched Osman twice in the hope he could avoid using his firearm.

‘Drug seeking’ 

But when the punches didn’t seem to have an effect, Davies shot Osman, who dropped to the ground and died where he landed. 

When presented with the known facts of the case, Sowa said Osman was “drug seeking” and likely in a state of withdrawal. 

The psychiatrist said Osman likely would have experienced “emotional blindness” as well as “extreme agitation,” paranoia and hyperarousal.

Justice Maharaj asked the doctor if he had any recommendations for how to prevent similar situations in the future.

“The core of it is how to control drug abuse,” said Sowa. “That’s an issue that I know is confronting the whole of society.”

Sowa said sometimes he feels hopeless when working with the heavily addicted population. 

“It’s very painful seeing these young people coming in all the time when you know the end of the road is not going to be a happy one.”

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