A Quebec coroner’s report on the fatal 2012 shooting of Farshad Mohammadi by a Montreal police officer is calling for better training for front-line officers in identifying and handling mental health crises.
Coroner Jean Brochu also renewed the call for Montreal police officers to be equipped with Tasers.
Mohammadi, who was homeless at the time, was shot in the back and killed at the Bonaventure Metro station while running from two officers after a confrontation that saw him slash one with a knife.
The officers had approached Mohammadi near the station’s turnstiles and asked him to leave the premises.
The situation escalated into violence after Mohammadi ignored the officers’ orders to leave and their request for identification.
In his report, Brochu said Mohammadi was displaying signs of “mental disorder” that officers with better training in such matters could have recognized.
His report offers a brief history of Mohammadi's mental health problems after he arrived alone in Canada from Iran under a special United Nations refugee program.
Rather than seeing it as disobedience to the law, officers with proper training are taught to see such refusal as a possible indication of mental confusion or distress, Brochu wrote.
“Officers need better training, like the kind being given at the Quebec’s police academy, in how to detect possible mental health problems in individuals who are ‘resisting’ in order to determine if the best course of action is to proceed with the intervention in the same way or to request sociomedical intervention and speak calmly with the individual as you await the arrival of those with appropriate training,” Brochu wrote.
Brochu said it was essential that such specialized help be available at short order to avoid long delays and the possibility of such situations getting out of hand.
He also called on Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services to work with Montreal’s health and social services agency to ensure an adequate number of mobile intervention teams are hired and at the ready to help front-line officers.