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Jury Returns Verdict of Homicide in Police Shooting Inquest

Coroner's inquest examining the fatal police shootings of three mentally ill people issued ruling and multiple recommendations.

Photo by AshtonPal, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Over the course of three months, a coroner’s inquest looked into the deaths of Michael Eligon, 29, Sylvia Klibingaitis, 52, and Reyal Jardine-Douglas, 25—three people with mental illnesses who were fatally shot by Toronto police in separate incidents. Each person had been carrying a knife or scissors when the confrontations with police occurred.

Today, a five-member jury determined that these deaths should be considered homicides; such a verdict does not involve the same consequences it would in a criminal trial, but establishes that the actions of another person resulted in each fatality.

The jury also issued dozens of recommendations: for example, police should receive additional training in verbal de-escalation techniques, remain aware of a person’s mental state and not simply his behaviour, and resort to shooting only after other options have been exhausted. Jury members also recommended that police rely more on in-car cameras and cameras that can be attached to uniforms, and more commonly use body armour that can protect officers against sharp weapons, and shields that can aid in the disarming of people carrying such weapons.

No officers have faced charges related to the shootings.

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