'I see him when I close my eyes' says father of 20-year-old who died in police custody
Ken LeBlanc wants to know what caused the death of his son after a struggle with Winnipeg police
Sitting in his Garden City living room, Ken LeBlanc holds a school photo of his 20-year-old adopted son, Taumaos LeBlanc, who died in police custody late Sunday night.
LeBlanc, who has raised Taumaos since he was two weeks old, said the loss of his son has been difficult.
"I see him when I close my eyes when I go to bed," said LeBlanc.
He says his son — who he described as smart, academic and good with computers — had been struggling with alcohol since LeBlanc's wife, Taumaos's adoptive mother, died from cancer in 2013.
LeBlanc says later in the evening he was woken up by Taumaos, who he said was intoxicated and howling like a wolf. He said he warned his son that if he didn't stop he would call the police.
"I had no choice but to call. He left me no choice whatsoever," said LeBlanc.
The incident on Sunday wasn't the first time LeBlanc said he had to call the police about his son over the last few years. He said when the police came he stayed upstairs so he wouldn't interfere with the officers.
"They go down there, and that's when all the commotion started. I just stood up here and listened. I wasn't happy but I couldn't interfere. It wasn't my place, because I called them to restrain him, that's all. I didn't tell them to come here and kill him. And I hope that's not the case. I'm sure it's not, I'm just — I hurt. I'm frustrated."
At some point after a struggle between police and Taumaos ensued, LeBlanc said he noticed the smell of Mace inside his house.
"All I heard was the coughing, when another eight police come down to help. They went downstairs and they were coughing from the Mace, so they all went outside and the other two stayed down there," said LeBlanc.
The Independent Investigation Unit is now investigating and will request a civilian monitor because of the police-involved fatality.
The IIU issued a release on Tuesday that didn't name Taumaos, but said that after police put a male in custody, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services were contacted and the male was taken to Seven Oaks Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
LeBlanc says he doesn't know yet what caused his son's death but that he hopes he'll find out when the investigation is complete.
"I hope it's on the up and up. I hope they're transparent, I hope they're honest with me. That's all I ask," said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc is trying to focus on making service arrangements for Taumaos for the weekend and wants to remember the son he said he was honoured and privileged to raise.
He said there is a void in his life now and that it's been hard to process.
"I'm still in a blur. It won't really register."