Manitoba’s police watchdog has launched an investigation after a 59-year-old died following a police-involved shooting.
The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) said it initially received an order on Feb. 8 under the Manitoba Mental Health Act to apprehend a 59-year-old man and take him to hospital for a non-voluntary physician examination.
Officers said they made several attempts in the following days to apprehend him, but were met with ‘negative results.’
On Tuesday morning, officers went to the man’s home in the 200 block of Magnus Avenue. They met him at the door and say he was exhibiting ‘agitated behaviour’ and was in possession of a crowbar.
Police said as officers approached him, he set off a fire extinguisher in their direction before locking himself inside the home.
Officers called for the tactical support team. Once they arrived, they made repeated attempts to communicate with the man, who had barricaded himself in a second-storey bedroom.
According to police, the man again discharged the fire extinguisher at the tactical support team.
He eventually left the bedroom, officers said, and confronted police with a large, edged weapon.
Police said they then discharged their firearms, striking the man.
Officers said they provided emergency medical care to the man, using chest seals and a tourniquet.
He was taken to hospital in critical condition where he died.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) has been notified, WPS said, and has taken over the investigation.
Acting Chief Art Stannard said at a news conference Wednesday it is tragic whenever a police interaction results in a death.
“No family wants to hear that their loved ones died during a police encounter. No one does.”
He noted Winnipeg police had a history with the man for mental health issues.
Stannard said this was not an appropriate case for Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC), an initiative that pairs mental health professionals with police to help people in crisis, given the safety concerns officers had.
He said police have access to non-lethal weapons, but their use is based on the circumstances of each incident.
“I cannot speak on this one because the circumstances will be reviewed by IIU.”
Police seeing increasing number of mental health orders, calls
Winnipeg police’s superintendent of community engagement Bonnie Emerson says during the first month and a half of 2024 alone, the service has responded to and provided updates on a ‘significant number of serious and violent incidents.’
Well-being events continue to trend upwards, as well, remaining the top citizen-generated call for service that WPS responds to for the fourth year in a row.
In 2023, police responded to about 58 well-being checks a day, Emerson said. That’s an increase of four per cent over 2022, and 16 per cent higher than the five-year average.
“We don’t often know what the risk to safety is until after we arrive.”
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