After three months, Hamilton police chief Glenn De Caire has expressed condolences to the family and friends of Steve Mesic.

But those close to the slain man say it’s too little, too late.

At a police services board meeting on Monday that included a clash between the city's mayor and the Mesic group, De Caire offered condolences on behalf of the Hamilton Police Service. Mesic was shot and killed by police near the Lincoln Alexander Parkway in June.

Sharon Dorr

Norm Dorr, far right, sits next to daughter Sharon Dorr during a Hamilton Police Service board meeting Monday. The group attended to protest police silence on the death of Steve Mesic. Police Chief Glenn De Caire expressed condolences for Mesic's death. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Mesic supporters crowded into the cramped boardroom at 155 King William. They sat close behind De Caire as he made a statement about the case, which is being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit.

“The decision of the SIU will answer many questions in any incident,” De Caire said. “But those words that help us to understand, to explain and to comprehend, will never remove the very significant loss in a person or family’s life.”

Steve Mesic

Steve Mesic was shot and killed in June. (Mesic family)

The goal of attending the meeting was to inflict change, which includes increased transparency and addressing Mesic’s death to the public, said Norm Dorr, whose daughter, Sharon Dorr, was engaged to Mesic. She is due to deliver the couple’s child in two weeks.

Wouldn't budge from meeting

After De Caire’s statement, Bratina suggested the Mesic and Dorr families leave the overflowing boardroom, saying the item was “not on the agenda.”

“We have people waiting outside,” Bratina said.

Norm Dorr piped up and objected.

  • Dorr: Are you telling us as citizens of Hamilton and as Canadian citizens that we are not allowed to be at a public meeting?
  • Bratina: Yes, you are.
  • Dorr: Well then, we’re going to sit right here.

Bratina explained that people who attend council meetings often leave when their issue has been discussed. But Dorr said in an interview after that he felt Bratina “would have physically (removed him) if he’d had the opportunity.”

Dorr also refused a handshake from De Caire when he expressed condolences.

“He had the opportunity to do that quite a while ago,” he said. “If he had been a real man, he would have contacted the Dorr and Mesic families when the incident happened.”

'Right time and place' for condolences

Police have stayed at arm’s length from the incident because of the SIU investigation, De Caire told reporters.

He spoke up Monday, he said, to address “misinformation” regarding Hamilton police’s role.

“There have been different interpretations that have been provided in the community about the process and the procedure,” he said.

“It’s important for us to make sure the Dorr and Mesic families know specifically what we are allowed and what we are able to share with them.”

Hamilton police, he said, always expresses condolences "at the right time and place."

Difference with Sammy Yatim case

Sharon Dorr met with De Caire last week and again after Monday’s meeting. Both, she said, were “long overdue."

When De Caire read his condolences, she said, she felt little emotion.

“I just felt like it came a little too late.”

She's happy for the family of Sammy Yatim, who was killed by Toronto police earlier this year. Toronto’s police chief expressed condolences shortly afterward and an officer has since been charged with second-degree murder.

“There is definitely a difference in the way (Toronto police) responded to the public,” she said.

Moving to a bigger room

Norm Dorr was pleased with at least one change. For the rest of 2013, police services board meetings will be held in city hall council chambers, where there is more room for members of the public. The board will reexamine the decision in January.

There isn’t much public interest in the meetings, Bratina said. 

But Coun. Lloyd Ferguson said of the two meetings he’s been to, the crowd is “jammed to the doors.”

Interest in the police services board will likely only increase, Coun. Bernie Morelli said.

“That time has come.”