The brother of Alain Magloire, a Montreal homeless man who died after being shot four times by police in February 2014 when he refused to drop the hammer he was wielding, is hoping a public inquiry into his death will lead to lasting change.

Pierre Magloire said he's optimistic the inquiry, which began this morning, will produce improvements in the way police and medical professionals deal with individuals who have mental illness.

"I don't have that much confidence that it's going to change everything, but maybe it (will lead) to one step forward," he told the CBC morning show Daybreak.

Magloire, 41, was the father of two girls and worked as a molecular biology researcher before developing a mental illness.

He was shot dead on Feb. 3 by Montreal police officers outside the Berri bus station in downtown Montreal. Officers said he was wielding a hammer in a threatening manner and refused to co-operate.

Berri bus station shooting

The scene outside the Berri bus station in Montreal after a police shooting last February. (CBC)

Minutes before, he had used the hammer to smash the security glass at a hostel front desk after the clerk refused to return his $50 deposit to him.

The prosecutor's office said it reviewed the investigation by Quebec provincial police and found no grounds to lay charges against the officers involved in the intervention.

Jennifer Chez, an inspector with Quebec provincial police, testified Monday morning. 

She recounted the events leading up to Magloire's death and played a series of 911 calls and radio transmissions between police and dispatch officers.

At one point, an officer is heard calling for the police stun gun  — a weapon not all officers are authorized to carry — but it didn't arrive in time. 

Chez said a squad car called to scene near the bus station hit Magloire, and then an officer tried to tackle him but slipped.

At that point, Magloire raised the hammer he was holding and another officer shot Magloire four times, the inquiry heard.

Magloire had sought help

Magloire began living on the streets in November 2013, just three months before his death, according to his brother.

Documents obtained by Radio-Canada last week showed Magloire sought help from medical services that same month, telling staff at Montreal's Sacré-Coeur Hospital that he wanted to kill someone and "wanted to talk to a social worker or psychologist."

Magloire was released the next day.

Pierre Magloire said he was "sick to his stomach" when he learned that his brother had tried to get assistance. He said it shows that Alain slipped through the cracks of the system. 

"He was willing to receive treatment," he said.

"It's like if you're going to the hospital with a broken arm and they say, 'oh no, just take a pill and go home.'"

This round of hearings is expected to last two weeks and aim to determine the circumstances around Magloire's death.

Another session in March will look at social and medical assistance, and help available to people with mental health issues.