Toronto vigil for man shot by police
Activists say police need more mental health training
Neighbours in an east Toronto community held a vigil Saturday morning for a man that was shot and killed by police in February.
Michael Eligon, 29, who suffered from mental illness, died during a confrontation with police on Feb. 3. He had been admitted to a hospital in late January for a mental assessment. On the day of his release he was supposed to be picked up by a relative but wandered away.
Police received a call after 10 a.m. on Feb. 3 that a man who seemed confused or disoriented was seen in the neighbourhood.
Witnesses said Eligon was wearing a hospital gown and carrying two pairs of scissors on Milverton Boulevard, near Coxwell and Danforth Avenues, when he was shot in a confrontation with a group of police officers.
Irene Koops-MacPherson, a resident in the area, took part in the vigil in remembrance of Eligon. She heard the three successive gun shots
"I heard shouting in front of my house, followed by three very quick shots: bang-bang-bang," Koops-MacPherson said.
Doug Prichard, a community activist, also witnessed the shooting.
"My first thought in seeing a blue hospital gown was that this was a mental-health situation and my question was where's the mental-health support for our police," Pritchard said.
Prichard added that it is clear more training is needed in order for police to deal with these situations.
"There should be professional mental health resources available to our police 24 hours a day in every police division," he said. "Not just a few for a few hours a day as we have at the moment. Eligon was a sick man who needed help and in the end he didn't get it."
The Special Investigations Unit is still investigating Eligon's death. Police cannot comment while that investigative is underway.