Toronto inquest jury to consider how police deal with the mentally ill - InfoNews

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Toronto inquest jury to consider how police deal with the mentally ill

January 21, 2014 - 8:52 AM

TORONTO - Lawyers for Toronto police have warned an inquest jury examining the deaths of three mentally ill people to guard against micro managing officer training and policy.

The inquest is examining the deaths of Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Sylvia Klibingaitis and Michael Eligon, who were all gunned down after approaching police with knives or scissors.

William McDowell, representing Toronto's police chief, says none of the officers involved in those cases failed to follow their training and there is no indication their teachings failed them in either scenario.

McDowell urged the jury not to prescribe "granular" changes in how police carry on their business, but did push for the jury to recommend an increase in the availability of Tasers among officers to deal with incidents involving the mentally ill.

Lawyer Richard Niman, representing an officer involved in one of the fatal shootings, says the inquest highlights the need for focus on the health care systems and supports that could prevent those in crisis from coming before police in the first place.

The families of the victims have been pushing the jury to recommend police take a person's mental state into consideration and make every attempt at de-escalation when dealing with someone carrying an edged weapon.

The inquest heard that when an officer is faced with an individual advancing with a sharp object, their response is based on the person's behaviour and not their mental state.

The five-member jury has to sift through some 220 possible recommendations after closing arguments at the inquest wrap up later today.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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