Calgary

Anthony Heffernan's parents say they want justice

Anthony Heffernan's parents have a lot of questions about why Calgary police fatally shot their 27-year-old son in a motel room last month.

Pat and Irene Heffernan have a lot of questions about why Calgary police fatally shot their son at a motel

Anthony Heffernan was shot by police at a motel in northeast Calgary. (Submitted by family)

Anthony Heffernan's parents have a lot of questions about why Calgary police fatally shot their 27-year-old son in a motel room last month. 

"We're looking for the truth to come out," Pat Heffernan told the Calgary Eyeopener from his home in Prince Albert, Sask. "And we want justice."

Heffernan died more than two weeks ago after police forcibly entered the Super 8 motel room where he was staying. 

Police described him as agitated and in "medical distress," and said they were confronted with a "high-risk situation" once inside. But the Heffernans question why deadly force was necessary.

Anthony Heffernan, at right, stands with his family. He was the youngest of five children and was raised on an acreage in Saskatchewan. (Submitted by Heffernan family)

Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) investigators told the family when police officers entered the room Anthony was standing with a lighter in one hand and a syringe in the other. 

"And then they Taser him," said Pat Heffernan. "They said that he fell back onto the bed. And then he gets up and he removes the Taser prods from his — I think he was struck in the chest — so when he stood up again we're not sure what happens there at all."

5 shots

Pat Heffernan said his son did not drop the lighter or syringe and may have "come towards" the police officers, according to the investigators.

"One of the officers then shot five times, hitting Anthony once in the chest area and three times in the head. And they shot once through the window."

"Why would they Taser a person they figured was in medical distress?" he said.

"Another question we have is why a young man in medical distress, who was causing no public disturbance, other than missing a check-out time, warranted five police officers to bust down his door, thereby escalating the situation," his mother Irene Hefferan said. 

"If Anthony was in distress, why didn't they phone family members first?" she said.  "Anthony was never a violent person. Never."

Calgary police have said they are not commenting on the case, as it's being investigated by ASIRT.

The family said Heffernan struggled with a cocaine addiction.

"He didn't relapse weekly or monthly. It was a few times a year. He struggled. And he hated it," said Irene Heffernan.

'We want the truth to be known'

His parents said his career and his day-to-day life were not normally affected by it.

"He was an extremely hard worker," said Pat Heffernan.

Heffernan was about to write his final exams for an electrician's masters certification at SAIT. His parents say he planned to become a electrical engineer.

"He was determined to continue his education," said Irene Heffernan.

The Hefferans remember their youngest son as being full of charisma and joy.

"He was an easy child to raise because his sister and brothers doted on him," his mother said. "We live on an acreage and so he loved to do all those outdoor things."

From motor biking to hunting to snowmobiling "he just loved the freedom of the outdoors," she said.

The Heffernans are bracing themselves for a long wait when it comes to the ASIRT investigation.

"We think the process is very slow," said Pat Heffernan. "Maybe that's the process they use, but it is very frustrating for us." 

The family said the autopsy results aren't expected for another four to six months. 

"We want the truth to be known," he said.

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