The former partner of a man shot dead by Toronto police last year says she wants results of a Special Investigations Unit probe into the shooting overturned.
Michael Eligon, Jr., 29, died when he was shot by police on Feb. 3, 2012. Shereen Simon, the mother of Eligon's son, said the SIU probe that cleared police of any wrongdoing in the shooting should be appealed.
"My biggest wish is that the SIU's ruling get overturned," Simon told CBC News in an exclusive interview. It's the first time any member of Eligon's family has spoken publicly since the shooting.
"What I would love is justice. I would love if the inquiry would open up questions that would allow us to relook at the SIU's judgment."
Eligon, wearing a hospital gown, tuque and socks, was shot on Milverton Boulevard near Coxwell Avenue.
At the time, police were following reports that someone had cut a store owner with scissors and attempted to carjack two separate women.
According to Ontario's SIU, which examines police actions that result in a death or injury, Eligon had escaped the Toronto East General Hospital, where he had been admitted under Ontario's Mental Health Act.
After leaving the hospital, Eligon had gone to a variety store and picked up two pairs of scissors. The store owner called 911 after he had been cut by the man.
Police then received reports that Eligon had tried to get two separate women to hand over their car keys.
The SIU would determine that a line of seven police officers with guns drawn faced Eligon as he approached them with a pair of scissors in each hand.
An officer ordered Eligon to "drop the knives," according to the SIU, as the group backed away from him.
When an officer backed into a pickup truck, the distance between Eligon began to close.
An officer ordered Eligon to drop the scissors under threat of being shot. Eligon didn’t comply and shots were fired, one of which hit him.
Eligon later died in hospital.
Simon said the pain of losing the father of her nine-year-old son has not passed.
"I don't think there’s a day that goes by that I don't think about Michael," Simon said. "I find myself looking at his pictures and just thinking: 'How did this happen?'"
Simon said she has questions about the way police dealt with Eligon in the final moments of his life. She also has more general concerns about how police try to de-escalate confrontations.
"They’ve just got to find a different way to deal with situations," Simon said.
Within weeks of Eligon's death, the SIU would determine there were no grounds to lay charges against the officer who fired the shots.
For Simon, it wasn't enough.
"I don't think justice was served at all," said Simon, who, along with her lawyer, met with the SIU.
Last month's shooting of Sammy Yatim, a Toronto teenager who was shot dead on a TTC streetcar, has stirred emotions for Simon.
"My heart goes out to that family because it's life-changing and not in a good way," Simon said.
"How do you kill someone in an isolated situation? I'm not going to go into the details of that, but it's just so unnecessary," she said.
"It's almost like there is like no regard for life, which is sad, it's really, really sad."
Simon said she is trying to ensure that her son, as well as a daughter she has from another relationship, remember Eligon as he was — not as he died.
"I reinforce positivity, so I make sure that the perception that my kids know is the one that they've lived with, the one that they've experienced, the one that they have in their memories," she said.
"The perception of the media? That's not my first priority."
Eligon was a fun-loving, generous person who loved books and music, Simon said.
"He was a beautiful person and he didn't deserve this," she said.
A forthcoming coroner's inquest this fall is set to examine the circumstances of Eligon's death, as well as the deaths of two others who were shot when they approached officers with weapons.
The inquest will not assign blame or result in charges against the officers. Instead, it could result in recommendations for police responding to similar incidents in the future.