Steve Mesic’s family still has a lot of unanswered questions about the way the 45-year-old soon-to-be-father died.
“It has just been an unbelievable nightmare,” said Norm Dorr, the father of Mesic’s fiancée, Sharon. “And there are a lot of discrepancies.”
The provincial Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced Wednesday it had cleared the officers involved in the Mesic shooting with any criminal responsibility connected to the former steelworker's death.
- READ MORE: SIU clears officers of wrongdoing in Mesic shooting death
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Mesic, 45, died on June 7 after a confrontation with police just behind his house. After checking himself out of a voluntary mental health care program at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, he was seen wandering on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway near Upper Wentworth Street ramps.
The SIU decision, released on Wednesday almost four months after Mesic's death, details the disturbing and somewhat bizarre occurrences that led to the shooting, which occurred in a grassy area located between the highway and Mesic's backyard.
'I do have moments when I fall apart – but it’s one day at a time.' - Sharon Dorr, Steve Mesic's fiancée
It also notes that officers were unaware of Mesic's mental state, that he had attempted to commit suicide while walking on the Linc, and that the home he was attempting to enter on that Friday morning was his own — key pieces of information that could have led to a different outcome.
But Dorr and his daughter Sharon say some things in the SIU report just don’t add up. Chief among them: the location of a shovel the SIU says Mesic was carrying, and just how far away he was from the two police officers who confronted him when he was shot.
The SIU report says the two officers first confronted Mesic with their guns drawn when he was trying to break into his own home with a shovel. The officers were on the other side of a chain link fence that separates Mesic’s home from the highway.
According to the SIU, Mesic pulled up a portion of the edge of the fence, crawled under it with the shovel and started walking towards the officers with it slung over his shoulder “like a baseball bat.”
Inconsistencies puzzle family
But Dorr says he has gotten inconsistent responses about just where the shovel was picked up by SIU officials. In some cases, he was told the shovel was picked up in the backyard. In other cases, SIU officials said it was picked up a few feet from Mesic’s body.
“The shovel has gone to three different locations, which we find strange,” Dorr said. “Obviously that shovel has a mind of its own and can travel around the property by itself.”
The family is also contesting how far away Mesic was from the officers when he was shot. The SIU says both officers opened fire when he was about two metres away from them.
But Dorr says from looking at the scene from where Mesic’s body was found compared to where shell casings were found, that distance was closer to 12 metres.
“These are key points that cleared the officers,” Dorr said. “Something doesn’t make sense.”
Dorr says the SIU told him Mesic was shot six times — five times in his midsection and once in his back. Then he was handcuffed.
SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon told CBC Hamilton Friday afternoon that all information in the news release was “verified against the investigative report and is accurate.”
“The scene was mapped with the use of a Sokkia Total Station which recorded measurements of all relevant evidence found at the scene,” she said in an email.
“The news release goes into a detailed explanation of what occurred that day.”
'He deserves a stable life'
Mesic’s fiancée Sharon says she’s getting through the ordeal “day by day, moment by moment.” She is focusing most of her energy on her new son, Dominic Steve Mesic. He is only ten days old.
“I have to maintain stability for Dominic. It’s not just about me,” she said. “I do have moments when I fall apart — but it’s one day at a time.”
“He deserves a stable life and a stable mother.”
She says Mesic struggled with anxiety issues for pretty much his entire life — but he was a kind, caring person regardless.
“His anxiety just surfaced a few months before his death,” she said. “He was having trouble managing it, so we decided to seek help.” In the past, Mesic had used therapy and medication to cope with his anxiety.
“Yes, it was a struggle,” Dorr said.
“But we all have struggles. All of us.”