The fatal shooting of Andrew Loku in Toronto on Sunday has prompted a response from community groups saying the man was not a threat and did not deserve to die.
They are demanding an action plan to deal with police shootings of black people — especially those with mental health issues. One woman was so upset that she collapsed in tears during the news conference.
Loku, 45, was a father of five who was wielding a hammer and apparently distressed at an apartment complex before he was shot by police. Robin Hicks witnessed the event and said things quickly escalated toward a shooting.
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According to Hicks, the incident started because three women on the floor above Loku's apartment on Gilbert Avenue were making a great deal of noise. He was in their apartment for 10 minutes holding a hammer before Hicks got him out of there.
From there, two police officers approached Loku and demanded that he drop his weapon. He didn't drop the weapon and walked a few steps towards the officers. Hicks says within seconds, Loku was shot dead by police.
"I'm not talking five minutes, or two minutes, I'm talking seconds here. We didn't get a word in, me or Andrew," Hicks said, adding: "Andrew didn't even have a chance to open his mouth."
Hicks says she is traumatized by the incident.
The apartment now contains the letters FTP (an acronym for "F*** the police") in black on the plywood covering where police broke the glass to get into the building.
The complex is subsidized by the Canadian Mental Health Association to help people with mental health issues in order to provide them with affordable housing.
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations stated Thursday that Loku was suffering from mental illness and released the following statement on their website:
"Mr. Loku had been carrying a hammer and was distressed. He was not a threat, as a helpful neighbour was present helping him calm down. Mr. Loku had been complaining about constant noise from a resident who lived above him. All he wanted was to sleep. Mr. Loku was suffering from mental health issues. He was a child soldier survivour from South Sudan. His country has been involved in Civil War since 1983."
Policing: the noble business of converting our lives and bodies into hashtags. #AndrewLoku— @AndrayDomise
The room where the news conference happened Thursday began chanting "black lives matter." A spokesperson for the Black Lives Matter TO coalition said the incident was "anti-black racism. Period."
A spokesman for the family said they are devastated by the death. The Special Investigations Unit is investigating.
Interesting how many Canadians showed support for American black men killed by US cops, but so many silent when it happens here #AndrewLoku— @whatkaileysaid