Montreal police need better training to deal with mentally ill, coroner says

A Quebec coroner's report into the death of Alain Magloire says Montreal police officers need better training when dealing with people who have mental illness.

Coroner’s recommendations come 2 years after homeless man, Alain Magloire, was shot and killed by police

Officers gather in downtown Montreal on Feb. 3, 2014 after a police shooting killed Alain Magloire, a 41-year-old man with mental health problems. (CBC)

A Quebec coroner says police officers in Montreal need better training when dealing with people who have mental illness.

Coroner Luc Malouin looked into the death of Alain Magloire, the 41-year-old homeless man who was shot to death during a confrontation with police just over two years ago.

Radio-Canada has obtained a preliminary copy of his report. In it, Malouin found the police did an adequate job, but could have done more.

He said police on the scene communicated their methods poorly.

Video surveillance from the downtown Montreal bus terminal on Berri Street captured the final moments of Magloire's life.

As four officers stood around Magloire with their firearms drawn, a police car entering the scene hits the man.

That lead to a scuffle between Magloire and one of the officers who slipped and fell. As Magloire raised his hammer and appeared poised to strike the officer, another one shot four times.

Malouin says it would have been preferable for the officer in the car to announce what he was going to do on his police radio.

The coroner also noted weaknesses in how police dealt with Magloire, someone who was visibly in psychological distress and suffering from mental illness.

"The tone used by the officers, yelling at Magloire to drop his hammer, was inappropriate," wrote Malouin. "In a situation where someone has mental illness, you have to defuse the situation."

More stun guns

For Malouin, one of the major problems with how the situation was handled was the lack of an electronic stun gun, or Taser, on the scene.

He said Magloire could have been neutralized on two separate occasions during the confrontation with police before he was shot.

A police officer can be heard calling for a Taser in audio recordings between officers on the scene and the police dispatch. It arrived seconds after he was shot.

Malouin recommends that the Montreal police increase the number of stun guns available to officers in the field.

He notes in his report that Montreal has 75, with fewer than half of them in the field with officers on duty.

Malouin says Toronto has 700.

The coroner also recommends that Quebec's ministries of Education and Public Security revise their training for officers when dealing with people with mental illness.

Malouin said the hours spent on that sort of training in CEGEP or in the province's police college are either insufficient or poorly used.

It's not known when the official copy of Malouin's report will be released.


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