EDITORIALS, NATIONAL NEWS

The Shooting of Michael MacIsaac – Justified or Not?

DURHAM REGIONAL POLICE SERVICE - FB
DURHAM REGIONAL POLICE SERVICE – FB

There is little doubt Police involved shootings are some of the most misunderstood, controversial issues that face Law Enforcement.

Unrealistic public expectations regarding the use of less than lethal force or suggestions that sharp shooting Police Officer’s should wing suspects in the arms or legs do little to further the understanding of these tragic incidents.

As a former Homicide Unit Supervisor I was often called upon to direct Police Officer involved shootings or incidents where deadly force was used.  Additional responsibilities included the need to complete a report analyzing the use of force, making determinations regarding the justification for the use of deadly force and identifying any issues related to policy.

In July of 2013 I wrote a story called, “The Shooting of Sammy Yatim – Justified or Not?”

The story included objective, in-depth analysis of a deadly shooting that occurred on a Toronto Street car that ended with the tragic death of a troubled young man.  The story spread on social media and generated reactions from a diverse audience that included hostile and emotionally charged commentary, accusations of bias and the occasional open-minded viewpoint.

When I wrote the story my intention was to publish a dispassionate analysis of the shooting to counteract main stream media’s jaded, inflammatory and speculative reporting.  The story was a cautionary work that encouraged people to resist the urge to rush to judgement.

Tragedy strikes again.

On Monday, December 2, 2013, Michael MacIsaac (47) was shot and killed by a Durham Regional Police Officer.

On March 23, 2014, a detailed account of the shooting was written by Jennifer Pagliaro and published on thestar.com, Canada’s largest online news website.  Much like the reporting on the Yatim shooting, the article posed many questions but offered little in the way of answers.  The report clearly questions the justification for the shooting.

Once again, I find myself encouraging people to resist the urge to rush to judgement.

Pagliaro reports MacIsaac was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, a condition that affects the areas of the brain that control memory and behaviour.  The day before he died MacIsaac was running a fever, appeared dazed and had no appetite.  He had a minor seizure his wife classified as, “typical,” and rested most of the day.

On Monday, December 2, 2013, MacIsaac booked off sick and stayed home to rest.  Just before 10:00 am, he suddenly appeared naked in a hallway, was speaking but not making sense and seemed delirious.  He was agitated and resisted his wife’s attempts to restrain him.  He had never been violent before and his behaviour was troubling.

MacIsaac suddenly bolted out of his home, still naked, in near zero degree temperatures, with no socks or shoes on his feet.  He ran so fast his wife couldn’t chase after him.  In the next few minutes several people called Durham Police reporting a man acting in a strange manner.  At one point, MacIsaac started approaching cars and banged on car windows with his fists while swearing at the driver to open them.

He was subsequently observed to enter a yard where he picked up a large rock from a garden.  He then approached an occupied car while holding the rock in what can only be described as a menacing manner.  Moments later MacIsaac disappeared on a porch and banged a small patio table off a side window breaking off its wicker top.

When he returned to the street MacIsaac was carrying a wrought-iron chair leg like a baseball bat.

At this precise moment, two (2) Police cruiser cars approached and three (3) Officers subsequently exited the vehicles with their service firearms drawn.  As MacIsaac “stepped off the curb” one of the Officers fired three (3) times.

A witness indicated MacIsaac never swung the chair leg.   She further reported she saw the Officers kick the chair leg from his hands once he was lying on the pavement before they handcuffed him.  The Officers then covered him with a blanket and eventually turned him over to EMS.

Michael MacIsaac died from his injuries the next day.

In a video interview posted on The Star website MacIsaac’s wife Marianne states, “They mowed him down like a dog in the street.  I can’t believe an Officer can do that to another human being.”

At another point she asks, “Why did he shoot?  We know Michael had no lethal weapon in his hand, he was harmless, that’s the number one question?”

While I have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for Marianne MacIsaac, I respectfully suggest she may not have a full understanding of the elements that constitute a deadly force encounter.

A deadly force threat requires three (3) specific elements, a) Weapon, b) Intent and c) Delivery System – ie: the subject must be capable of using the weapon against someone.  

In this case an argument could be made that all three elements existed;

a) Despite the suggestion MacIsaac “had no lethal weapon in his hand” it’s clear from the report he was armed with a deadly weapon (wrought-iron chair leg) capable of causing death or grievous bodily harm.

b) The requisite intent can be inferred by MacIsaac’s aggressive, agitated behaviour.

c) A delivery system existed if MacIsaac was in close enough proximity to the officers to launch a deadly attack with the chair leg.  (In edged weapon attacks that distance may be within a range of twenty-one (21) feet.)  The report indicates MacIsaac was shot when he “stepped off the curb.”  An inference can be made from this information that he was closing the distance on the Police Officers when the shots were fired.  

It’s unfortunate that Police Agencies have to lock down information when incidents like this occur.  In a perfect world, widows and family members would be provided with full particulars of a deadly force encounter.  In the world of criminal justice, the need to protect information, preserve evidence and maintain the integrity of investigations will always take precedence over the rights of grieving family members.

Having said that, I will venture to answer some of the critical questions at issue;

Q Was the shooting justified? 

  • Before that assessment can be made a detailed interview with the contact officer is required.  His mindset, interpretation and articulation of the threat are essential elements required to arrive at any conclusion regarding his use of deadly force.  Did the Officer have the reasonable belief that he, or anyone under his protection, was in danger of suffering death or grievous bodily harm?  The shooters evidence will be heavily scrutinized and measured against other investigative findings to conduct a proper assessment.

Q Did MacIsaac possess a lethal weapon?

  • Yes, there’s no question that a wrought-iron chair leg could be used as a weapon capable of causing death or grievous bodily harm.

Q Did MacIsaac have a delivery system?

  • The distance between the contact Officer and MacIsaac will be an extremely important part of the puzzle.  For a deadly threat to exist, the Officer must have had the reasonable belief that MacIsaac had the ability to inflict death or grievous bodily harm to him or any other Officer or civilian in his proximity.  It appears evident from the report that MacIsaac had stepped off the curb and was moving towards the Police at the time he was shot.
  • A significant omission in Pagliaro’s report is the lack of any information regarding the Police Officers verbal commands to MacIsaac in the moments preceding the shooting.  Police Officers are trained to use verbal commands in deadly force encounters.  I doubt the contact Officer exited his cruiser car and immediately started shooting without issuing any verbal commands.

As a former SWAT Team member I frequently participated in shoot or don’t shoot scenario training.  The shoot or don’t shoot decision is one that is made in a fraction of a second.  When conducting analysis of a deadly force encounter one must closely examine the events that immediately precipitated the shooting.  In this case, critical questions remain unanswered;

  • What verbal direction did Police give MacIsaac?
  • What was his reaction to the verbal direction?  
  • Was he told to drop his weapon?
  • Did he refuse to drop his weapon?  
  • Did he close distance on the Police Officers after being told to drop his weapon?
  • What was the distance between the contact officer and MacIsaac at the time the shots were fired?

The answers to these questions are essential before anyone can make an assessment regarding the justification for the use of deadly force.

Q Did MacIsaac demonstrate the requisite intent?

  • A strong inference regarding intent could be made by virtue of the fact MacIsaac armed himself with a potentially deadly weapon, was aggressive and was acting in an agitated state.  Verbally aggressive language, gestures or a refusal to drop a weapon can also support conclusions regarding a subject’s intent.  It’s also important to consider what information the contact Officer received prior to his encounter with MacIsaac.

Q What inference can be made by virtue of the fact only one Officer fired his weapon?

  • No meaningful inference can be made without having the benefit of a full and complete understanding of the investigative results.  Was the contact Officer in closest proximity to MacIsaac when the shots were fired?  Did the other Officers have the benefit of cover or concealment?  Did a cross fire situation exist that prevented the other Officers from shooting?  Did the other Officers articulate the elements required to justify the use of deadly force?

Q Should the Officers be criticized for not using a de-escalation technique?

  • It appears the MacIsaac shooting was a dynamic, volatile and escalating incident.  Dynamic incidents offer little time for the use of de-escalation techniques.  Deadly force encounters often require split second life or death decisions.  Police Officers are trained to react to a deadly force encounter with deadly force.  Officers will only attempt a de-escalation technique if no immediate threat of death of grievous bodily harm exists.  In this case, it’s clear the contact Officer believed Mr MacIsaac presented an imminent deadly threat.

Q Should the Police have used a less than lethal force option?

  • When faced with a deadly threat, Police Officers are justified in responding with lethal force and are not required to attempt to use less than lethal force options. (Pepper spray, Asp baton, Taser, bean bag rounds)  In fact, sometimes, attempting to use less than lethal force options could be ill-advised or highly dangerous.  When facing a deadly threat, the use of these less than lethal options should only be used in conjunction with deadly force options and only when circumstances dictate their safe use.  Professional Police Officers trained in the use of force are able to articulate and justify their use of force and why less lethal options were considered to be either inappropriate or ineffective.

Although I can’t arrive at any firm conclusion regarding the justification for the use of deadly force in this incident, I am certain of one thing.  The Police Officer who shot and killed Michael MacIsaac never woke up that morning with the intention of killing anyone, no less a man who struggled with mental health issues.

The Officer went on patrol that day to do his duty, that is, to serve and protect the citizens of Durham.  In doing his duty he was dispatched to a dynamic, volatile situation and subsequently found himself in the midst of a deadly force encounter.

The truth is, Police Officer’s who use deadly force in the line of duty often suffer from serious emotional trauma after being involved in these events.  I’ve witnessed those devastating effects on many occasions.

The investigation into the Police involved shooting of Michael MacIsaac must run its course before any conclusions can be made.  The goal of the investigation will be to determine if the perceptions, actions and force used by the Officer in question were reasonable given the threat he faced.

That determination has yet to be made.

EDITORS NOTE:

Pagliaro’s report raises many questions regarding the Durham Police investigation, SIU overlap, jurisdiction and competing interests.  All of these issues detract from the core issue regarding the justification for the use of deadly force and should form part of a different conversation.

While the questions raised are not germane to the core issue, they should give members of the WPS pause for concern regarding the pending formation of Manitoba’s Independent Investigations Unit.  The story demonstrates that roll out and operational issues may be both complex and wide-ranging.

Members of the WPS Executive should be alert to these issues.

RELATED LINKS:

THE STAR.COM – Jennifer Pagliaro “Why Did Durham Police Shoot and Kill a Naked Man”

The Police Insider – “The Shooting of Sammy Yatim – Justified or Not?”

42 Comments

  1. Marcel…

    Truly appreciate your insight and comments.

    Thank-you.

  2. Excellent article. Well written and presents a lot of good facts.

    I will not comment on the occurrence other than the officer’s statements are inconsistent and that it was possible to use de-escalation techniques. The only witness in the area was in his vehicle. He was not the target of malice. In fact, MacIsaac was walking away from him. Therefore, he was not in imminent danger.

    The only person in perceived imminent danger was the subject officer. That perception is his alone.

    The one piece of evidence that clarifies this issue is destroyed. The table leg was vital. SIU lost that table leg !!!

    Nobody can truly answer the question regarding the subject officer’s perception of imminent danger but himself. Could he have tactically withdrawn and used a vehicle as an obstruction ? Could he have approached the subject from a different angle, thereby averting his attention and providing the witness officers a better opportunity to assist ? These are questions for the inquest.

    The table leg provided the subject officer the right to use lethal force. How big was the leg ? Was it heavy ? Was it sharp ? Could it deliver a lethal blow ? Could it cause serious bodily harm ?

    WHERE IS THE TABLE LEG ?

    These are my questions.

    By the way, I am a 23 year veteran police officer with epilepsy. I have arrested people in similar conditions. I have also been arrested and tasered in front of my children while in this condition. As well, I have had subjects approach me with a butcher knife and concluded the occurrence safely. By no means, is this a condemnation of this occurrence. Only qualification of my experience.

  3. As hard as this is going to be for you to hear the answer is definitely yes, it is to much for you to ask.

    No one should have the expectation a Police Officer would unnecessarily risk their lives by using less force than is required for a situation that requires deadly force. Your suggestion makes absolutely no sense and has nothing to do with courage.

    Universally accepted Police use of force protocols dictate Police Officers are legally authorized to use a level of force higher than the level of force used against them. That standard has been upheld in our Courts and is the law of the land.

    Your suggested approach would drastically increase Law Enforcement deaths and dramatically increase danger to the public.

    I understand where you’re coming from but I’m afraid you are way out of touch with reality.

    Police Officer’s have to protect themselves so they are able to protect the public.

    You clearly see things differently.

  4. “You would have to be insane to try and wrestle an edged weapon out of the hands of a deranged suspect if you had a deadly force option.”

    Mr. Jewell, I’m not expecting a response. I appreciate your efforts to act as an apologist for the police profession – they clearly do more good than harm. The fact that they do so much good is what makes these perceived lapses so difficult to fathom.

    With respect to your statement above, I suppose I myself, and a lot of people who might wonder at such tragedies, have to ask: If the deranged suspect was your wife, or son, or daughter, your father, or mother, would it truly be “insane” to expose oneself to risk, significant and perhaps even mortal, in order to secure a peaceful, non-lethal resolution to the situation. If it were your family standing before you, would you resort to the deadly force option?

    This is why most of us don’t think that decision insane. It is because we actually see our loved ones on the other end of police officers’ weapons. We have an expectation that, for our sake, the sake of the public that you police officers swear to protect, a public that included Mr. MacIsaac, that you, too would see a citizen first, and a threat second, and act in a manner that sets you apart from the average citizen. We expect that higher standard of police officers. If some deranged person attacked me and I had a gun in my hand, that gun might go off out of fear. But we expect more of police officers. I guess what we all are wondering, sir, is: should we? Should we expect courage from police officers? No one doubts that it would take courage to close distance on someone with a knife or a bat. No one doubts that it would take courage to risk one’s life to try and control an armed attacker when you have the discretion to kill them. But as a police officer yourself, is that an unfair expectation for us citizens to have of those who swear to serve and protect us?

  5. It seems to me that a million little influences have infiltrated the way Police do things. Public pressure. Union pressure etc. I think it has resulted in a stiff, unworkable at times way of doing things. The divide therefore is widening between the public and the police.

  6. James G Jewell

    When I said Police are easy targets it was in reference to people blaming them for all of societies problems. Problems like being the mental health response agency of first resort as underlined by Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu. Mental health services are clearly not keeping up with the demands our society is placing on them in Canada and the United States. Canadians are lucky we don’t share the same gun culture as our U.S. neighbours or we would see many more mass shootings in this Country.

    Steve, I worked 26 years as a Police Officer in Winnipeg in almost every capacity you can think of including emergency response. I can’t quote any stats for you but I can assure you that every major City in North America, including my home town of Winnipeg, has literally hundreds of potentially dangerous people walking around with serious mental health issues.

    Every now and then they snap, and when they do who do you think has to deal with them.

    Just google NCR (Not Criminally Responsible) and see how many murder cases we’ve had over the last few years where mentally ill people committed the ultimate crime.

    I don’t see any change coming on the horizon either.

  7. James I don’t think that police officers are the only ones targeted if one is suicidal or suffering from mental illness. There are many news stories where gun men have gone into schools, movie theatres and the recent one that shot women because of mental illness. You should know that some situations can get out of control. And I don’t think the police are easy targets at all. One can target anyone they want to, and it’s only when police are called does it become a factor. And James if you do know the number of dangerous mentally I’ll walking amongst us please show us the source and stats.

  8. Regarding your comment on people are waking up to police brutality is so right. We the public are now catching them conduct themselves in unruly manners. And let me say I’m sure it also went on years ago ,they just were not getting caught. I-phones are everywhere now and citizens are videotaping police action where ever they can. And let me tell you if not for citizens videotaping, I can guarantee these cops would get away with it. The blue wall does exist for a reason. There are lots of corrupt police all around the world. Just go to youtube and see the millions of videos where police did stuff. Even in Vancouver there is a group that follows and videotapes police officers while on duty. They were fed up of police brutality.

  9. Marianne I can only hope your family does not give up. Keep fighting against what you believe in. And for the officer involved not have to turn in his notes or speak about what happens says something doesn’t it. Fact is your husband was killed by a cop, nobody can ever deny that. I also don’t want to get into an argument with what rules the police can go by you know officer suspended with pay,name withheld. Nice protection for them while the families of those shot get treated like shit.

  10. James G Jewell

    “I feared for my safety,” is not a standard excuse as you put it.

    The justification for the use of deadly force is defined in the Criminal Code of Canada. In brief, a fear of suffering death or grievous bodily harm is a requirement to justify the use of deadly force.

    Civilians, like Police Officers, also have the right to defend themselves against a deadly threat.

    I’ve participated in Homicide investigations where civilians used deadly force and charges were never laid as we concluded the killing was “justifiable.”

    Your question regarding the taser is a valid one.

    I suggest we won’t know the reason until the results of the investigation are known.

    A possible explanation could be that the “kid” didn’t drop the knife after he was shot. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t just drop dead after being shot.

    The taser may have been used in the Officers attempts to disarm the subject before they approached him.

    We should resist the urge to rush to judgement until all of the facts are know.

    Thank you for commenting.

  11. James G Jewell

    Not sure why you felt compelled to weigh in and attack me when Joanne’s comments were directed to Mr Wilson.

    Regardless, I am not a “talking head” as you put it and I never defended anyone. I don’t work for the Police and have written articles criticizing them in the past.

    For whatever reason, you can’t seem to wrap your head around the fact the intention of the article was to explore use of force issues by someone who has experience running these difficult investigations.

    As I said to you before;

    “I’m a strong believer that honest, open, respectful discussion can build greater communication and understanding. Even when it comes to diametrically opposed sides of an argument. Putting labels on people and stereotyping do little to advance a conversation.”

    It’s unfortunate that you can’t seem to resist the urge to launch personal attacks.

  12. If a civilian was facing the same threat and the same 3 conditions and used a firearm to defend his/her life, that person would be sitting in prison right now, or forced into bankruptcy by the ‘justice industry’. Police can use the flimsiest reasoning to take a life. “I feared for my safety” is the standard excuse, whether its a immigrant at a airport armed with a stapler or a confused kid on a streetcar with a small pocket knife. Some cops simply think they are omnipotent, and as a result their buddies will backup anything they do. Why else would they taser a kid already full of bullet holes ‘after’ the fact?

  13. Karyn Greenwood-Graham

    Great points Joanne. This cop is another talking head, defending the police. Its what they do best. Save your typing fingers, he will never get what you or any of us are going thru.
    Affected Families of Police Homicide, Ontario

  14. Joanne MacIsaac (Michael's Sister)_

    Mr Wilson .. you are correct – the Durham Police even took the liberty that morning of taking the witnesses in police cars to the Durham Regional Police station even before the SIU arrived on scene … also, shouldn’t we expect an officer – a first responder – to be trained to access a situation and give proper aid !!! why then would they tell EMS that the man who they just shot twice, and who was crying, bleeding on the cold pavement right in front of them, at their feet – he was naked remember – why would they tell EMS that “injuries are unknown” ?? the ORNGE ambulance should have been sent to the scene that day – and had the DRPO that made the EMS call been honest (and not trying to cover their butts) it would have been. I have looked at the regulations – this would have provided Michael 2 additional hours of trauma care !! and possibly saved his life – but we will never know.

    Also, in addition to allowing the witness’ to be taken to the police station – by the very police department that the SIU was suppose to be investigating … John Ansel of the SIU gave an interview, before Michael’s wife and family were notified of the shooting … in this interview Ansel indicates that “Michael left the house naked when police arrived …. that two women sustained minor injuries ….. that he understands Michael had a weapon and there was an altercation with police ending in Michael being shot … that he was in quite critical care at Ajax hospital … and there were SIU investigators with his family at hospital” None of this was true .. NONE of it – yet he spoke to some lying officers that gave him the above information and he choose to share it on national tv!! we have reported this, and the SIU again says they are investigating … he was not legally allowed to say anything about the case !!

    Section 13 of this Regulation states:

    •The SIU shall not, during the course of an investigation by the SIU, make any public statement about the investigation unless such statement is aimed at preserving the integrity of the investigation.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg … the DRPD and the SIU messed up many, many times in their response to Michael’s Case and we will make it all public. We have proof … these are not just words!!
    Also, you would expect that a police officer should be knowledgeable and courageous in tough situations ….. have some guts, courage, compassion !!! and in Michael’s case “confused behaviour is not a reason for physical / deadly force” …. police officers are not there to pass judgement or enact justice – especially the death penalty – regardless of what crime a civilian is alleged to have committed. Police officers think they are above the law and this puts all public at risk.
    We have yet to hear back from the SIU (over 5 hellish months now) but regardless of their decision – we will fight for justice and accountability for all involved in what happened to Michael.
    Joanne

  15. The use of force is common place in Toronto and the surrounding GTA, as is cop culture. It’s being condoned by the SIU (well some of them), our provincial Liberal government and city politicians. It’s one big viscious circle that allows these individuals to sell out our safety in exchange for their own. We have a police Chief (Blair) who feels there are “acceptable levels of crime” in Toronto. That’s an issue for me. If this was something politicians wanted to fix, the laws would change so our SIU can be more effective.

    Instead we now have some police mental health units scattered around the city. Time will tell if this is helpful, or just another smoke screen meant to create a false sense of safety.

    I have a brother who is a paranoid schzophrenic and there’s not a day that goes by I don’t worry and wonder will this be the day the TPS kill my brother.

    Something is definitely wrong in Ontario. Even our police officers are suffering from PTSD.

    I’m not anti-cop James. I just think it’s a crying shame I have to look outside of Ontario to find police officers to look up to. Everyone needs hero’s and positive role models in their lives. I’m no exception.

    I get why you wrote the article and I do appreciate the inside information. It will help advocates to lobby for change.

    The anger and loss this family feels represents the majority of Toronto residents. It’s not just the surviving family and friends who feel this way.

  16. The definition of a deadly force threat I refer to is contained in WPS use of force procedure.

    While other Police Agencies may use different language to describe a deadly force threat, the elements required to complete a deadly force threat are largely consistent in the Police Universe.

    I’ve heard Police Officers across Canada and the US refer to Weapon, Intent & Delivery system in their descriptions of the elements required to constitute a deadly force threat.

  17. If you want to reject my analysis because I’m not from the Province of Ontario there’s not much more I can say that might advance the conversation.

    The fact is, the Criminal Code of Canada gives Police the authority to use force and places certain limitations and restrictions on the application of force. All Canadian Police Officers are subject to the same limitations and restrictions.

    I am fully aware of the definition of Homicide and I’m not blind to the connotation you use it in when you reference “Police Homicide.”

    While a great many people might support the inference, the truth is the criminal use of deadly force by Police Officers in Canada is extremely rare. The vast majority of fatal Police involved shootings in this Country are justified and therefore are technically considered non-culpable homicide or justifiable homicide.

    Justified or not, the people who loved the person that was shot and killed have a much different perspective. I fully understand and appreciate that. In fact, in all the justified fatal Police shootings I’ve investigated only one family member publicly supported the Police and acknowledged the shooting was justified.

    I also want you to know I fully understand the difference between a medical issue and a mental health issue. As I indicated in my reply, I wasn’t interested in debating the issue further.

    It seems you’re unwilling to distinguish the difference between an armed person with mental health issues out on the streets vs an armed person with mental health issues in a hospital setting. People on the street often aggravate their medical conditions with street drugs or alcohol and are likely to be armed with a wide variety of dangerous weapons that people in a hospital setting just don’t have access to. There are other obvious distinctions and variables. It’s only logical that Dr’s and Nurses might receive training on how to disarm patients because they often find themselves in dangerous situations with patients with mental health issues. Does that somehow mean that fully armed and trained Police Officers should use the same tactics when they encounter an armed person struggling with mental health issues? Frankly, that makes no sense. There is no common sense comparison between the realities faced by Law Enforcement Officers on the street and Medical Professionals in a hospital setting.

    On May 14, 1998 Bill Larson, HR Manager at Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital was killed in the Hospital after he was stabbed 13 times by a man who had significant mental health issues.

    In January 2011, Sgt Ryan Russell of the Toronto Police Service was killed by a man with significant mental health issues who was found not criminally responsible for his murder.

    On March 31, 2014, Police Officer David Smith was shot three times and killed by a man with mental health issues who disarmed him and used his own weapon to take his life.

    On April 9, 2014, a 16 year old boy with obvious mental health issues, slashed and stabbed 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburg high school before a heroic assistant principal tackled him. Five students were critically wounded in the attack and suffered life threatening injuries.

    As you can see from this incident, disarming an armed suspect is much more difficult than most people might think. You would have to be insane to try and wrestle an edged weapon out of the hands of a deranged suspect if you had a deadly force option. If I had been in that school I would not have hesitated using deadly force on the suspect had he closed ground on me or anyone else in my proximity. The failure to do so could result in my death or the deaths of other innocent students. As an armed Police Officer it is your job and responsibility to stop that threat.

    (These are just a few incidents that come to mind. I have no doubt that if I did some research I could find dozens more examples where Police Officers were killed or injured by people affected by mental illness.)

    As I previously indicated, I’m not a firearms or ammunition expert and have nothing to add to the discussion regarding hollow points.

    I applaud your efforts to become an advocate for affected families.

    My only question is, will your advocacy be reality based and productive or will it be infused with emotion, hostility and contempt for Law Enforcement.

    Why would I ask such a question?

    When you insist on putting labels on people and infusing your communication with stereotypes and derogatory terms you negatively impact your credibility. If you don’t get the reference you won’t likely understand the point.

    On a positive note, my communication with you and several of the concerned commenters on this site, including Marianne & Joanne MacIsaac, encouraged me to reach out to MOVA (Manitoba Organization for Victim’s Assistance) and underline concerns regarding the lack of support surviving family members of fatal Police shootings receive. MOVA offers court support, victim outreach, continuing support and advocacy. (www.mova.ca) The Board of Directors was receptive to the concerns and took the issue under advisement.

    I see that as progress.

  18. Affected Families of Police Homicide, Ontario

    It is interesting that you deflect each point I have raised with only your opinion or experience which is not in Ontario. It was my intent to educate you sir on the affects of police homicides, a term that which is encouraged by the Coroner’s Office here in Ontario. The definition of Homicide from Oxford dictionary is “killing of one person by another.” It is what it is.
    Your common sense conclusion is far from that. The differences between epilepsy and mental illness are very different…that sir is common sense. Ask the people who suffer with either.
    As a good friend of a psychiatric nurse I am telling you that they deal with people in crisis hourly, and know how to de-escalate it without even a bruise. The cop culture will never look at this but one officer who used to train the officers on use of force at the Ontario Police College (an quit because he did not like the change in training in th3 1990’s) now trains hospital staff how to disarm patients with a sharp edged weapon. When was the last time you heard of a nurse, doctor or support person was killed by a mentally ill person in hospital? But the police shoot a citizen because they perceive them as dangerous…but also have not had suitable training to give them that knowledge. Not professionals.
    I agree that you are not a firearms expert, but we have had one consult with our group. He has stated that the Un does not sanction the use of hollow point ammunition. Police still use it. Your explanation still leaves me wondering why they need to use this kind. In many of the loved ones lost the police shooter missed and these bullets went out into the public… even more gravely endangering the lives of children and adults in communities all over Ontario.
    We have met with the Director of our Special Investigations Unit to discuss some of AFPH concerns and I continue to contact him and other staffers with an investigational concerns. He has offered an open door policy because of our approach. We are presenting facts and even giving the SIU information they need for more thorough investigative teeth.
    We have also had a series of meetings with Ontario’s Ombudsman, Andre Marin who is investigating the lack of use of de-escalation in policing. We are a part of this and will be at the media event when it is concluded.
    We have met with provincial MPP’s, the Premiers office, Opposition leaders senior justice critic to table our collective ideas for change.
    You see, “we” the Affected Families are not going away, and are forming groups with BC and their Families for Police Accountability, Quebec’s Police Accountability Coalition. We are hoping to see a collection of people group together to support each other in Manitoba soon.
    Once we see the changes to ensure a safer Ontario for all then we will move to the federal arena, until then we are doing our best in Ontario.
    and did I miss something? Where was the disrespectful conversation?

  19. “A deadly force threat requires three (3) specific elements, a) Weapon, b) Intent and c) Delivery System – ie: the subject must be capable of using the weapon against someone.”

    I recall somewhere in your comments the above statement as being universally accepted.

    Where does this come from, a piece of legislation?

  20. Karyn;

    Before I respond to your post I want to offer my sincere condolences regarding the loss of your son Trevor.

    I also want you to know that I agree that the affected families of Police involved shootings should have much more support and consideration than they currently receive.

    I reject your use of the word “cop culture” as a means of dismissing my perspectives and analysis of Police involved shootings. The fact is I was a Police Officer for twenty-six (26) years but I am also a husband, father, sports coach, neighbour and member of my community. I don’t believe in putting labels on people and I respect people who have experience and expertise in highly specialized professions.

    In your post you suggest Police Officers are not “accountable to a governing association like other professionals.”

    In Manitoba, Police Officers are accountable to the following;

    The Police Service – Rules & Regulations, Professional Standards Unit (Internal investigations)
    The Law Enforcement Review Agency
    Civil Liability – subject to lawsuits
    Criminal Liability – subject to criminal charges
    Inquests
    Quasi Judicial Reviews & Hearings

    As you can see, there are many layers of accountability, in fact, very few professions are subjected to this level of scrutiny.

    You suggest, “It is unusual to see an officer handle a situation peacefully first, then ask questions later.”

    The truth is Police Officers have hundreds of contacts with armed, aggressive, assaultive individuals every single day and only a very minute percentage of these incidents ever result in Police Officers using deadly force. You don’t have to believe me, the statistics are overwhelming.

    What you call “a slap in the face to the members of the MacIssac Family and other affected families” I call a common sense conclusion based on my experience. Do you really believe blood thirsty Police Officers are out there patrolling the streets looking to kill people? I think you know that’s just not the case.

    I have no intention of splitting hairs with your regarding Mr MacIsaac’s medical condition or mental health.

    I’m not a firearms expert but I believe Police use hollow points to limit collateral damage by using ammunition that is not likely to penetrate or pass through the intended subject. The hollow points expand and are more likely to stay within the subject minimizing risk to by standers or unintended targets.

    Nurses, social workers and doctors don’t get dispatched to armed and dangerous encounters with members of the public. When they do encounter these kind of situations they call 911 and the Police come. I’m not sure what your point is by bringing up Police Officer salaries. Are you suggesting they should be more inclined to risk their lives because they’re paid well? It doesn’t work like that. Police Officers are trained to deal with a deadly threat with deadly force. You can call that “cop culture” all you want. It’s common sense.

    I’m a strong believer that honest, open, respectful discussion can build greater communication and understanding. Even when it comes to diametrically opposed sides of an argument. Putting labels on people and stereotyping do little to advance a conversation.

    Something to think about.

    Thank your for joining the discussion.

  21. Karyn Greenwood-Graham

    The Affected Families of Police Homicide, Ontario:
    “It appears the MacIsaac shooting was a dynamic, volatile and escalating incident. Dynamic incidents offer little time for the use of de-escalation techniques.”

    Key words used here “It appears”….but only to the writer who is a cop in cop culture.In this case, it’s clear the contact Officer believed Mr MacIsaac presented an imminent deadly threat.
    CLEAR TO WHO???? Was this writer there and present? No…cop culture speaking again.

    “Professional Police Officers trained in the use of force are able to articulate and justify their use of force and why less lethal options were considered to be either inappropriate or ineffective”.
    • First the idea that police are professionals is beyond amusing. They are not accountable to a governing association like other professions that makes sure the profession is held in high regard. Police Associations protect the members and do not promote a positive public image.
    • The idea that police are adequately trained in use of force and are able to articulate is proven only in policing culture, no other place is this justified.
    • The very statement that police would consider any other way of communicating with the public in crisis is inhumane…yep police culture.
    The police culture we see and understand again and again is one to serve and protect only themselves in too many instances, not all but most, that is in mainstream media. It is unusual to see an officer handle a situation peacefully first….then asks questions later. Our communities are not longer being policed by invested community members who live in their policed neighborhoods. This change is being perpetuated by the culture and not humane.

    “The Police Officer who shot and killed Michael MacIsaac never woke up that morning with the intention of killing anyone, no less a man who struggled with mental health issues.”

    This comment is a slap in the face of every member of the MacIsaac family and the Affected Families of Police Homicide. The writer has clearly not read this well written article by Jennifer Pagliaro of the Star because if he had he would have clearly understood Michael’s illness. Clearly not an investigative mind.

    Question: Why do police use the hollow point bullets? They are not even sanctioned by the UN who have stated that this type of ammunition does too much internal damage to be warranted even in war times. This would have this writer and many others to feel the police want to do the most physical damage when shooting. Its wrong.

    Question: How is it nurses, social workers and doctors are able to “deal” with distressed citizens without guns on a DAILY basis. Interesting that an ex-cop trainer on use of force trains hospital staff how to de-escalate and disarm someone aggressive in the hospital…but our cops being paid over 100,000 are unable or I think unwilling to entertain any alternative….COP CULTURE.

    “The truth is, Police Officer’s who use deadly force in the line of duty often suffer from serious emotional trauma after being involved in these events. I’ve witnessed those devastating effects on many occasions.”
    We the Affected Families of Police Homicide know the truth. We also suffer with no supports offered to us by anyone! I have said it many times and presented to the Toronto Police Services Board on this very issue….police associations MUST automatically support these officers for trauma because in our very diverse country no one should assume that the officer is going to voluntarily seek treatment in a culture that is held to stay tough! I saw it with my own eyes at my sons inquest…the officer was gaunt, had lost a lot of weight and talking to her family was devastated. Think she got the right support no! I see not.

    So Mr Cop…..you have your culture to protect your ways…but We want to ensure the citizens of Ontario are policed with community police who care of the citizens first and not just themselves.

  22. Could you be more specific.

  23. What an ignorant article, a lousy piece of self-reassuring that banditism conducted in the name of justice is right. And you have the audacity to claim police is on “life support” , when reality is its just a huge gang when finally convicted of their crimes and misuse of power get paid leave while they are being investigated, and then joke sentences.

  24. Let me clarify….

    After a shooting the subject Officer (shooter) or any other Officer deemed to be an “involved” Officer is immediately separated and transported to the Police station where the Officer is placed in a room and monitored by an Officer who has no involvement in the incident.

    Homicide Unit members then caution the Officer and afford him his rights just like any other citizen would receive. Once the subject Officer speaks with counsel they are invariably advised to exercise their right to remain silent. The Officers almost always indicate they want to cooperate with the investigation and will provide an account of the events through their legal representation. The statements are normally provided in a few short days following the incident.

    The Officers generally do not make notes and may refer to their statements in any future court proceedings.

    The Officers are also allowed to access the services of a Police Psychologist prior to providing a formal statement to address any issues related to emotional trauma.

    The procedures would change dramatically if there was clear evidence of criminal misconduct perpetrated by the involved Officers.

    The Act doesn’t take into account that a Police involved shooting might occur at 3:30 am on a Sunday night, or on a holiday or some other inconvenient time when the IIU investigators might not be able to attend the scene for several hours. That is when issues might arise regarding investigative overlap, protocol, competing interests et al…..

    It’s going to be a very difficult job setting the IIU up and running it for the first year or so…

    Will be a lot of growing pains to be sure.

  25. James please correct me if I am wrong, but the immediate observation from the response is that Homicide investigations related to police officer involved shootings are not handled in the same procedural format as that for the public then.

    Am I correct when I say that a contact/subject officer is not immediately detained at the scene, given their rights and police warning, transported to detention and effort made to acquire an immediate audio/videoed warned statement?

    The question is again asked because the response suggests a time lapse results because legal counsel must be present before a formal statement is given. Is the formal statement as it is worded a “warned statement”?

    Then I ask myself, why would a contact/subject officer not begin to make immediate notes for such a serious event. Those notes would be a requirement for court should the person shot be charged criminally from the event. Not every person that is shot dies right? It’s a procedural responsibility.

    With respect to Pagliaro, jurisdiction, investigation overlap, investigation protocol and competing interests will not be an issue as it relates to the forming Manitoba Independent Investigations Unit (IIU).

    I say this because as I review the new Act it requires only that first on scene officers responding to a police officer involved shooting maintain scene integrity and notify the Chief of Police who must then notify the Independent Investigations Unit who upon arrival will assume responsibility/jurisdiction of the investigation.
    I agree that supports like the forensic identification team will be utilized by the IIU if the capacity within the Unit is not available.

  26. During a WPS Officer involved shooting a forensic team is assigned to photograph and seize the involved / contact Officer (s) uniform and equipment. The involved / contact Officer (s) provide formal statements through legal counsel and do not make notes.

    Pagliaro’s story exposes several controversial issues regarding jurisdiction, investigative overlap, investigative protocol and competing interests. It’s apparent these issues could contribute to a loss of public confidence in the process.

    While there’s sure to be growing pains establishing Manitoba’s first Independent Investigations Unit, the WPS Executive should be alert to the issues identified in the MacIsaac case.

  27. Mr. Jewell good afternoon,

    Would it be correct in saying that while in your “Homicide Unit Supervisor” capacity for officer involved shootings and as part of homicide investigation policy/procedure requirements, contact/subject officers were immediately detained, given rights and police warning and attempts were made to acquire a warned audio/video statement from them?

    AND FURTHER:

    As part of homicide investigations were all items contained on the person of the contact/subject officer seized into evidence which would include notebooks?

    If the answer is “yes” to my questions Ms. MacLsaac’s comments suggest the Ontario SIU as part of its “homicide investigation” was not afforded this procedurally which I speculate is a Regulatory hindrance.

    Separate and apart from this I would be interested to hear a more detailed commentary related to your article which read as follows:

    “While the questions raised are not germane to the core issue, they should give members of the WPS pause for concern regarding the pending formation of Manitoba’s Independent Investigations Unit. The story demonstrates that roll out and operational issues may be both complex and wide-ranging. Members of the WPS Executive should be alert to these issues.

    It appears a red flag is being raised on behalf of the Winnipeg Police Service and its Executive.”

  28. Joanne,

    I have no desire to engage in any form of confrontational or hostile exchange with you.

    You are entitled to your anger.

    I will try and answer questions that encourage respect, mutual understanding and growth.

    I understand Michael’s condition and have no problem with the distinction between a medical issue and a mental health issue.

    I don’t assume my opinion is the only informed one but I am willing to share my opinion and experience with a public that has a limited understanding of the dynamics involved in a deadly force encounter. Many people have expressed appreciation for my attempts to enhance their understanding of these tragic events.

    I find the suggestions of bias very interesting given that I have never suggested the shooting was justified. No such assessment could be made without access to the intimate details of the investigation. I assume that is your source of frustration when you have no doubt the shooting simply could never be justified. I understand that. The ultimate decision regarding justification will be based solely on technical evidence, not perception,emotion or public opinion.

    My article explains the dynamics of a deadly force encounter and identifies use of force issues.

    In answer to your question, a baton is no different than a table leg in that they both have the potential to be used as a deadly weapon.

    If you’re suggesting the Police should have used a baton in the confrontation with Michael then you should be aware that it’s commonly accepted that Police are justified in using a level of force higher than the level of force they encounter.

  29. I fully understand where you’re coming from when it comes to the perception you and others might have regarding the “independence” of the SIU.

    The problem with that perception is you indict an entire profession and paint them all with the same ugly brush. Homicide investigation is a highly technical pursuit that takes years of experience to master. I’m not sure who you would suggest we trust to run such cases if not former Police Officers or Detectives.

    The SIU in the Province of Manitoba is in the final stages of becoming operational yet the Winnipeg Police Service still manages to run internal investigations and Police Officer involved shootings with a high degree of integrity.

    That doesn’t mean they’re perfect and it doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes.

    I agree with the concerns of Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu when he says, “The police are increasingly becoming the mental health response agency of first resort.”

    We as a society need to do much more to properly treat people with mental health issues to reverse that trend.

  30. Joanne MacIsaac

    Oh James, sorry, I missed a point. The officer shot in Brampton — one bullet / vs Michael’s 2 – and I am sure he was not shot with a hollow point bullet – Michael was, as that is currently standard issue for law enforcement in Ontario — that bullet destroyed Michael’s pancreas, liver, kidneys, severed his aorta, his intestines, etc. — and guess what – he was naked – no Kevlar vest to soften that blow!!

    In addition – the officer was helped immediately. My brother was NOT.

    I am happy the man survived – but a hero?? What did he do? That bullet could have hit anyone?

    You want to see police officers that have performed heroically … look at Officer Mark Morelli in Hamilton, ON and his partner. I wish that he / or a man (officer) like him / was one of the officers on duty on the morning of Dec. 2nd and attending to my brother – he would still be with us.

  31. Joanne MacIsaac

    Well James – you claim you are objective? I could spout statistics at you as well – the courthouse – that bullet could have hit anyone. Also, I would assume that police officers are expected to take the greater risk? No? They do make $100,000 + at least the boys and girls in Durham – I have the public records.

    Also, – if your reference to mental illness is in anyway indicating that my brother had mental illness – you could not be more wrong. Michael had epilepsy – that does not equal mental illness.

    You also assume that your opinion is the only “informed” one? When your family is thrown into this – trust me – after 4 months of nothing but research you become a bit of a self taught expert. Which is where we are.

    “The police are increasingly becoming the mental health response agency of first resort” – this has not changed, typically when 911 is called – it is for some sort of emergency!! And, the support for police has been increasing – annually, DRPD is proud to announce on their website that they have a “mental health unit”. Well, when you get multiple calls, on Dec. 2nd at 10 am – indicating a man is running naked (no weapon and not aggressive with one witness) the automatic conclusion should be that at that moment there is some mental crisis happening. The mental health unit was never called …. not even since the shooting. I have spoken with that department many times. The officers chose not to utilize that resource. They could have taken a few moments at the scene to access … Also, if the majority of their calls involve “mental health issues” then I suggest they should know a little more how to handle such situations.

    Also, easy targets ….. James, I am sorry to tell you – you are not an impartial man on this issue. I will tell you though – there are police officers in the GTA and even at Durham that do NOT feel this situation was handled correctly ….

    Police are “trained” to take the risk – but, 3 big, burly, “bad ass” men – wearing Kevlar vests, with batons, pepper spray, and a whole arsenal of weapons at their disposal – including their “communication … verbal judo ?? could not handle that situation in a more professional, human, compassionate way is beyond any comprehension. There was ample room to back up – no civilian was at risk … etc. My brother is who they were called to HELP that day!! This went south very quickly, and the victim was my brother – but, we are not the first and will not be the last, sadly.

    I think that, as you said – police feel that they are at “risk” all the time since they are now having to deal with “mental health issues” more frequently than ever before. Well I say, this thinking is why police officers run into these situations with such heightened emotions and aggression even before there is any time to access.

    Also – how is a baton any different that a table leg?

    Joanne

  32. Marianne MacIsaac

    The Police, the SIU, the Attorney Generals office, The Ministry of Safety and Correctional Services are all Government bodies and or institutions that feed off each other. The SIU of course is called “an Independent body that investigates the actions of police” yet almost all of the Investigators at the SIU are former Police officers and detectives, leaves very little faith or trust by the families who have suffered an unimaginable loss such as ours that they will conduct an objective, fair and honest investigation.

    I firmly believe even in the Sammy Yatim case if a viral video of the shooting did not exist
    the officer would not have been charged. The SIU felt compelled to charge the officer due to the public outrage.

    There is such a stigma by the Police about dealing with people who have mental health issues and how they should not have to deal with it on a first resort basis, trust me families who have had loved ones in crisis and especially our family where it was due to Epilepsy would most definitely prefer not have to deal with the Police either, when it’s a possible death sentence or a crap shoot on the officer or officers you will encounter, your loved ones life is hanging on the officers judgement and also their own mental state.

    Perhaps the mental state of the officer who shot my husband and Officer Forcillo should at some point have been examined and maybe this should be something that is done on a regular basis.

    The officer who shot my husband had zero regard for another human beings life.

    Mr Jewell it is a seconds decision to pull that trigger but it’s a lifetime of extreme pain and anguish, sleepless nites anxiety attacks, nightmares, dreams and futures destroyed.

    Yes this is my opinion and no you will not agree, I don’t expect you too .

  33. Eileen;

    While you are welcome to your opinion, but saying I lack objectivity is meaningless unless you back it up with some kind of substance.

    You lost me when you started your second paragraph with, “Now, you reference, in defence of the shooting officer, the three elements to justify a deadly force threat”….

    I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion I was defending the shooting officer by providing a definition and clarification regarding the elements that constitute a deadly force threat.

    These elements are not “police rules of engagement,” rather, they are universally accepted components that define the requirements that must exist to justify the use of deadly force.

    I never created them but I did receive extensive use of force training as a Police Officer and Tactical Team member. The ability to comprehend and articulate a deadly force threat is essential to modern Law Enforcement Officers.

    I agree with you when you suggest Police are human, they make mistakes and must be held responsible for any mistakes they make. No argument there whatsoever.

    We can agree to disagree with your characterization that a man armed with a wrought-iron table leg is not a threat to the Police Officers.

    In reference to your “key point”;

    You have the right to believe what you want. I personally believe it’s prudent to wait until the SIU completes their investigation before we pass judgment.

    After twenty-six (26) years in Law Enforcement I can tell you I never met a Police Officer who would rather “shoot someone dead” then take a step back or talk to them. Unfortunately, in dynamic, deadly weapon events, Police don’t always have the luxury to take that step back, or engage in that conversation. If a Police Officer has the perception or belief that his life is in imminent danger he has limited options.

    The results are often predictable and tragic.

    I’ve said it before and I repeat, as defective as our Justice system is, the truth often finds a way to reveal itself.

    I hope that’s true in this tragic case.

  34. You’re entitled to your opinion.

    My question is, do you prefer to have an informed opinion or uniformed opinion.

    As a former Police Officer with experience investigating Police involved shootings I have insight into these matters that members of the general public might not have.

    Who do you think really needs to wake up Yves?

    How many mass shootings have we seen in the United States in the last few years?

    Do you have any idea how many dangerous mentally ill people are walking the streets of North America right now?

    Did you know that most Police involved shootings involve armed, dangerous criminals, people trying to commit suicide by cop or people suffering from some form of mental illness.

    At a National Conference this year Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said, “One of the things I used to say was that the police were the mental health response agency of last resort. The police are increasingly becoming the mental health response agency of first resort.”

    How did we get to a place where Police Officers are the ones who are on the front lines confronting people with mental health issues?

    How many shootings in Ontario Court houses have to take place before people start to realize the dangers that face Police Officers in this Country and in the United States are increasing at an alarming rate?

    Maybe it’s not just the Police that need to wake up.

    They’re just the easy targets.

  35. You sound like a fairly intelligent man – but, why is it so difficult to understand that police officers giving an opinion and judging the acts of another police offer is what we are all sick of. Do criminals judge themselves ???
    You have to get this thinking out of your mind and start fresh by taking public opinion into consideration. How many Albaquerque,s do you need before you all wake up.

  36. Moderation means I review each comment before it gets posted.

    See comment guidelines under the ABOUT tab on the main page.

    In brief, comments that are racist, homophobic, sexist, threatening or launch attacks towards other commenters are edited or deleted.

  37. Joanne;

    Let me start by expressing my sincere condolences and deepest sympathy for the loss of your brother.

    I respect the fact you have very strong opinions regarding this incident and I don’t intend to try and convince you or anyone else of anything.

    The point of my story was to examine the dynamics of a Police involved shooting and offer the benefit of my experience to identify the core issues and encourage people to resist the urge to rush to judgement before all of the facts are known. It was the same approach I took with the Sammy Yatim shooting.

    I identified issues and conducted analysis of both incidents. At no time did I ever suggest either of the shootings were justified. The fact is, it’s impossible for anyone to come to any balanced conclusion before all of the facts are known. While the issues are fairly apparent, the answers remain in an unfortunate cloud of darkness.

    In time, I hope those answers are revealed.

  38. What does Moderation mean James … are the responses being altered – or are only certain ones being posted ?

  39. Where do you get deadly weapon? It was a table leg – that he had just picked up (he did not bang against a window?)
    I have to say – I believe your comments are very much in favour of law enforcement. As I am also in favour of my brother.
    He was naked – no one says he swung – not one witness says he was aggressive … and he had nothing in his hand until his very last moments that day.
    He did not advance toward the lady’s car holding a rock – she thought as he picked it up and dropped it that he might hit her car .. then she backed out of her driveway. It is a symptom of complex partial seizure to pickup and drop items. He picked up the table to drop it – and the leg broke off in his hand – he was not looking for a weapon.
    And, if he held the table leg like a bat … then how was he shot in the shoulder ?
    This shooting was not justified – many, many witness’ have reached out to our family, sent photos with time stamps … etc.
    I (we) do not hate police – because we are angry and feel our brother was shot without any cause by the DRPO – don’t jump to that conclusion. We have many family friends who are in law enforcement. But I can tell you – the officers on duty behaved unprofessionally that day – and in the moments – hours and days following they continued to behave unprofessionally.
    I can look at these things fairly – would I have been scared if a naked man ran to my car as I pulled in the drive way .. yes, of course. But the other two vehicles watching (one woman and man) followed him for approx. 10 minutes — they could not have been that scared of Michael, as they followed him. The lady did tell us though – she was horrified and traumatized that day and took time off work …. in fact she sped from the scene without speaking to officers. The reason … she was terrified of the officers (not Michael) and could not believe this happened so quickly.
    There was not one person standing in the street that morning when Michael was shot – the police could have backed up, tried to speak with him, etc.
    It is hard for you to even consider that this was not a justified shooting – that does not surprise me though as I have just read your article on the Yatim shooting – I have watched that video many times … that was horrifying. I hope the officer spends the rest of his life in jail – although, if history is any indicator he won’t.
    But, people are starting to wake up to the issues of police brutality and excessive force that is becoming a far too common behaviour of police officers … people are going to stand up to this and force change – and we are leading the charge on this. This can never happen again.
    Joanne

  40. Marianne;

    Let me start by expressing my sincere condolences and deepest sympathy for your loss.

    I appreciate the fact you took time to reply, to ask questions and to seek greater understanding.

    I will do my best to answer your questions in an open, honest and sincere manner. I will limit my replies to use of force issues and not delve into the mechanics of the DRPS investigation or your questions regarding EMS. My mandate is to create greater understanding and not insult you by trying to justify everything you’ve experienced in this tragic incident.

    I also want you to know that I fully accept and appreciate everything you told me about your husband. I have no doubt he was a good, decent and loving man. His death is tragic and heartbreaking.

    I also appreciate the distinction you made between medical and mental health issues.

    Let me try and answer some of your questions;

    “If you saw a completely naked barefoot man in the month of December in sub zero temperature what would you think? Would you not think immediately mental health issue? Does not know what he is doing? Man in distress?”

    If I encountered such a man I would likely conclude he was suffering from some form of mental illness. If I encountered such a man who was armed with a deadly weapon I would recognize the situation as deadly force incident. I’ve participated in a many investigations where people with mental health issues have committed extremely violent acts including murder. Police don’t have the benefit of knowing the subject or what his potential for violence might be. People with mental health issues are often more volatile, more dangerous and less likely to be reasoned with.

    “If they were in that much fear of their lives why are they running towards him?”

    When Police are dispatched to a call such as this their number one priority is to contain and confront the threat. That is their job. Once they arrive on scene the Police are duty bound to contain and confront the threat to avoid exposing the pubic to any risk. Imagine what would happen if Police failed to contain such a threat and the subject killed or injured someone in the vicinity. Police are limited in their ability to retreat or move back in these kinds of scenarios.

    “You will argue with me with what I think about officers training but really three officers and they could not take down a 165 lb man? Are officers only trained to shoot? I find it very hard to believe that that all three officers felt their lives were threatened by my naked husband with a small patio table leg.”

    Police Officers are trained to respond to a deadly threat by using deadly force. There is no question that a 165 pound man armed with a wrought-iron table leg could present such a threat. There’s also no question that a person could be easily killed if they were hit over the head with such a weapon. I would never attempt to disarm such a person using hand to hand combat.

    “Michael was shot twice – why once is not enough?”

    It’s not unusual for suspects in armed confrontations to be shot multiple times. Many Police agencies train their Officers to “double-tap” or shoot in bursts of two shots in order to increase their ability to stop a threat. I received this kind of training as a Patrol and Tactical Team Officer with the WPS. Police Officers are trained to shoot to stop a threat. The number of shots required to stop a threat may vary greatly depending on the given circumstances.

    “Since it is the SIU that must investigate once a police shooting involves a civilian ..then how are we supposed to get the true account from the officer who shot my husband? Are we really to trust the account this officer gives his own Durham Regional Police department??”

    As a former Homicide Unit Supervisor I conducted a significant number of Police involved shootings. I believe I conducted objective, transparent & detailed investigations despite the fact I was investigating an Officer from my own Agency. In each case the shooters account of the events was heavily scrutinized against other Police Officer accounts, independent witness accounts, video evidence, forensic evidence and other investigative findings. The SIU’s were created to address the public’s lack of confidence in the ability of the Police to investigate themselves. The system is clearly not perfect.

    “Police arrive pursue the man they were able to tackle him after some struggle and he had gun and knife on him, this man who was potentially very dangerous and could have harmed those in the store gets to live to see a bail hearing and even was taken to our local hospital to make sure he was not injured. If you were in my shoes how would that make you feel?”

    I understand how this scenario might disturb you. I doubt the suspect in this case brandished the firearm or knife or the results may have been very different. Police are trained to look at suspect’s hands because it’s the hands that can kill you. If the suspect never had a weapon in his hands he wouldn’t have been perceived to present a deadly threat. I have arrested many armed individuals and have been in many armed confrontations where suspects were taken into custody without incident. Training, tactics, cover, concealment, perception and luck were all contributing factors that helped to avoid a tragic outcome. Every armed encounter is dynamic and few scenarios are ever the same.

    “Michael did not just wake up that morning and decide to run out naked that day he had suffered a complex partial seizure that made him react the way he did, he needed help that day not bullets and I do understand that this statement I am making will fall on deaf ears but Mr Jewell if Michael was your brother or Sammy Yatim your son would you truly feel these shootings were justified?”

    I’m sorry you’ve concluded that I feel these shootings were justified. I never made any such conclusion in the Yatim case and I don’t make any such conclusion in Michael’s case. It may be hard for you and others to accept that given my background in Law Enforcement.

    The point of my story was to explain the dynamics of a deadly force encounter and caution people not to rush to judgment without knowing all of the facts. That is precisely why I can’t arrive at any conclusions regarding the justification for the use of force in Michael’s case.

    As I pointed out in my story, there are far too many pieces of the puzzle that are missing.

    As defective as our Justice system is, the truth often finds a way to reveal itself.

    I welcome any comments or feedback from the MacIsaac family and will address their questions to the best of my ability.

    Thank you for responding to my story.

    I appreciate your candour and rational approach.

    Sincerely;

    James Jewell

  41. First off, I have to correct you – if you truly think this article was written objectively (or any of your other articles that I’ve read) then I suggest you re-read what you wrote. It was not written objectively but defensively. I understand why as you are an ex-police officer, but at least be honest on this point as you are fooling no one…except maybe yourself.
    Now, you reference, in defence of the shooting officer, the 3 elements to justify a deadly force threat (I notice you have referenced this is past articles as well). I believe this to be an over simplification of police rules of engagement that can be easily manipulated to suit, and justify, police actions in all situations because even you have to agree – every situation is unique and has to be assessed by those on the scene. You must also agree that the police are human and thus not infallible to making mistakes – but when we are talking about the loss of a life, these mistakes take on new meaning and they have to be held responsible for them.
    Michael was not on any drugs, as confirmed by the coroner, but was suffering from a horrible temporal lobe seizure that morning to cause him to run naked from his home. He didn’t hurt anyone, as per witnesses, he passed them on the street and smiled but did not engage in any way. The black truck you reference – he slowed down by Michael and spoke to him kindly asking what he was doing running naked on such a cold morning – his response….”I’m going to Mississauga”. He was seeking the comfort of his Mother and sisters in Mississauga.
    Michael showed no signs of aggression until the police showed up on the scene – as per witnesses, he was trying to “get in” somewhere once the police vehicles arrived, to get away from the police. He banged on the window of the car and said “let me in” – the witness said those were his words – he wasn’t swearing, he didn’t throw the rock; he didn’t swing the table leg. The biggest threat that morning was the police themselves – they were running toward him with guns drawn….who wouldn’t be scared….he wasn’t a criminal; beyond being naked he committed no crime. If it was me, a law abiding mom to 2 young children, I would probably have been paralyzed with fear – as Canadian’s we certainly don’t have much exposure to guns. I have to wonder just how much of a threat a naked guy, even with a small table leg, would be to 3 armed officers wearing body armour across a 2-laned street.
    Now for my key point…the police armoured up and weapons trained on Michael are now in complete control of the situation. There were no civilians anywhere close to Michael – he hurt NO ONE – he didn’t swing the table leg – he wasn’t engaging them – he took one step off the curb….HE TOOK ONE STEP OFF THE CURB. The police shooter on the other hand did endanger civilian lives – he shot…and as you said most police aren’t sharpshooters – the civilians in their homes and cars were more at risk from the police that day than Michael.
    Police are fallible…like anyone, and I strongly believe the officer fired prematurely due to inexperience and fear. I don’t think he went to work that morning with any thought of what would occur, but that is beside the point – it happened, and since we put deadly weapons in the hands of these officers we can certainly expect them to use them responsibly and with respect for life for everyone.
    If a police officer would rather shoot someone dead than take a step back, or talk to them, than Ontario has reached an unacceptable level of brutality and unaccountability in dealing with citizens.

  42. Marianne MacIsaac

    Mr Jewell I am the wife of Michael MacIsaac who was shot by a Durham Regional Police officer on Monday, Dec 2 2013.

    I have just finished reading your above commentary and wanted to fill you in on some information about my Husband Michael.

    Michael had Epilepsy which was caused by a bullying incident as a child thus causing him to have developed scar tissue which in turn caused him to have temporal lobe epilepsy which a side effect of this are “complex partial seizures” Michael did experience this type of seizure on Sunday and I had witnessed one that was of smaller scale. My husband did not have mental health issues, he had Epilepsy which was well controlled with his medications but as he had suffered a high fever the nite before, this can trigger seizures very easily .

    What happened to him that morning was something totally out of the norm, when the call was made to 911 they were advised he had suffered a seizure and was completely not himself. Of course others had seen him on the main road jogging, walking, running and also had called in to 911.

    Also to make one thing clear my husband never took recreational drugs did not drink or smoke, his autopsy was negative. Michael was not known to Police ever, did not even have a speeding ticket.

    I can appreciate the fact that someone seeing Michael in that condition may not understand that he had suffered a seizure, however if you saw a completely naked barefoot man in the month of December in sub zero temperature what would you think? Would you not think immediately mental health issue? Does not know what he is doing? Man in distress?

    Michael would not be able to comprehend or understand orders or commands being yelled at him in that state, there were three officers they ran towards Michael ..if they were in that much fear of their lives why are they running towards him? This was a residential street with ample room to move back and I repeat AMPLE room, witnesses have said the interaction happened so quickly it shocked them.

    Michael was 7 houses away from home, he was on his way back home he was naked cold and scared and perhaps even coming to, if you saw 3 officers coming at you with guns how would you feel?

    You will argue with me with what I think about officers training but really three officers and they could not take down a 165lb man? Are officers only trained to shoot? I find it very hard to believe that that all three officers felt their lives were threatened by my naked husband with a small patio table leg.

    Also two witnesses took pictures of Michael that day one at 1015am and one at 1017 this we know for sure as their is a time stamp and this cannot be made up, according to EMS report when Police called in for an ambulance shooting occurred at 1025am, the distance from the street where pictures were taken and where he was shot is approx 0.6km it would have taken him at least 5-7 min to do that treck that leaves very very little time for interaction or repeating commands.

    Michael was shot twice – why once is not enough?

    I know perhaps this may not be a concern to your point that you are making in your article above, however even the way the EMS call was handled leaves a lot of questions, why was EMS (ambulance) not advised that Michael was just shot twice? Witnesses say that from the time they heard gun shots till the time the ambulance arrived for Michael was quite a gap Witnesses thought those shots were warning shots, on the EMS report it says Trauma Unknown why ??

    Michael was left face down allowing him to bleed to death, why did they not try to attend to him turn him over he was shot in the abdomen, if he was turned over at least he would not have been lying in his pool of blood for so long.

    In your first question above “was the shooting justified?” a detailed interview of the “contact” officer is required” I believe you are in Winnipeg and your Independent Investigative body goes by a different name but in Ontario the SIU Special Investigative Unit has advised us that the “subject” or “contact” officer does not have to give his notes nor talk to them ..only the witness officers have to give their notes and their accounts. Since it is the SIU that must investigate once a police shooting involves a civilian ..then how are we supposed to get the true account from the officer who shot my husband? Are we really to trust the account this officer gives his own Durham Regional Police department??

    Did you know also that the SIU can deem anyone they want as witness officers and they do not necessarily have to have been at the scene at the time of the shooting .

    With all these gray areas in the Investigation process of the SIU how are we supposed to feel.

    Also insult to injury three officers came to my home while they knew very well I was at the hospital with my dying husband intimidated the caregiver for my Father to open the door no warrant was shown they just came in and searched the house from top to bottom taking pictures going thru our personal belongings..etc Officers were at my home prior to my knowledge of Michael being shot ..it took them over 1 hr to let me know he had been shot and he was only 7 houses away ..why didn’t they search then while I was home?

    Also unrelated to our case but I think its worth to mention 1 month after my husbands shooting about 1/2 km from my home at a grocery store a store employee calls 911 as he felt concerned about a man with a ski mask pacing the aisles and he looked like he was trying to conceal a weapon In his jacket. Police arrive pursue the man they were able to tackle him after some struggle and he had gun and knife on him, this man who was potentially very dangerous and could have harmed those in the store gets to live to see a bail hearing and even was taken to our local hospital to make sure he was not injured. If you were in my shoes how would that make you feel?

    My point Mr Jewell is you are a former Police Homicide Investigator and yes you have listed all of the policies and procedures and technicalities of what is legislated for Police Officers reason to use lethal force. There is no gray area what so ever I see, its black or white. I however firmly believe that not every officer or officers would have handled my husbands case with such lethal force, perhaps if it was those officers who were dispatched to Michael he may still be alive.

    We are hard working, law abiding decent people, Michael was a loving, very hardworking family man, he had a very soft heart and always felt for those less fortunate than him on many occasions on his day off he would go to downtown Toronto and take blankets to the homeless on the street.

    I am not an unreasonable person that does not comprehend I do realize there will be extreme cases where lethal force had to be used, but there is no one who can convince me that Michaels case was one of them.

    Michael did not just wake up that morning and decide to run out naked that day he had suffered a complex partial seizure that made him react the way he did, he needed help that day not bullets and I do understand that this statement I am making will fall on deaf ears but Mr Jewell if Michael was your brother or Sammy Yatim your son would you truly feel these shootings were justified?

    p.s just a heads up not to be surprised if you get many more emails from the MacIsaac family he has 5 sisters and his Mother.

    Thank you for your time
    Marianne MacIsaac

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