Inquest called into death of man fatally shot in neck by Winnipeg police

Manitoba’s chief medical examiner has called an inquest into the death of a man fatally shot in the neck by police last year.

William Weiss, 33, was killed on June 17, 2022, after reportedly attacking a Winnipeg Police Service officer with a large knife in the city’s North End, a Thursday news release from the chief medical examiner’s office said.

The incident happened at 4:14 p.m. that day while the officer was doing a routine traffic stop that didn’t involve Weiss, the release said.

The officer drew his pistol and shot Weiss, who was then taken to the Health Sciences Centre and pronounced dead after efforts to resuscitate him failed, the medical examiner’s office said. 

An autopsy determined Weiss died from a gunshot wound to the neck and the manner of death was deemed a homicide, according to the release.

At the time of Weiss’s death, police said only that a male had died after being rushed to hospital following an “officer-involved incident.” The police service did not release his name or age, or any details about what happened leading up to the shooting.

Police watchdog investigation

Manitoba’s police watchdog later investigated the incident and announced in December it was not recommending charges against the officer who killed Weiss.

The report from the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba said police were in an unmarked SUV at the intersection of Salter Street and Mountain Avenue when a man, now identified as Weiss, approached the driver’s side of the vehicle in an “aggressive state, which caused witnesses to honk their vehicle horns to alert the officer.”

“[The officer] opened his door and [the man] attempted to stab him with the knife, [so the officer] drew his firearm” and fired at the armed man in order to stop the attack, police told the IIU in the notification about the shooting.

Toxicology reports suggested Weiss had cocaine, alcohol and benzodiazepine medications in his system when he died. Witnesses described seeing a knife in the man’s right hand as he approached police, and video showed him “brandishing a large, hunting-style knife,” the police watchdog’s report said.

A family member called 911 hours before the shooting with concerns about Weiss’s mental state and threats of suicide, and said he could have a knife on him, the IIU report said. 

About 45 minutes before the shooting, another 911 caller reported a man at a nearby restaurant showing patrons a knife, but not threatening anyone. Both that person and the family member who called described a man wearing the same clothing. He was also seen stabbing at parked vehicles on Main Street, the report said.

The inquest called by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. John K. Younes will determine the circumstances surrounding Weiss’s death and determine whether anything can be done to prevent similar deaths, Thursday’s release said.

An inquest must be held if, among other reasons, the chief medical examiner has reasonable grounds to believe a person died as a result of use of force by a peace officer acting in the course of duty.

Information about when and where the inquest will happen will be determined by the chief judge of Manitoba’s provincial court and released at a later date, the release said.

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