2 years and still few answers: Mother of son shot by SQ calls for more police accountability

"It's too easy to shoot someone who's in crisis rather than trying to negotiate —a 17-year-old boy, who everyone loved," Wing said. 

17-year-old Riley Fairholm was shot 61 seconds after officers arrived on the scene

Riley Fairholm was 17 and suffering from depression when provincial police fatally shot him. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Two years after her son's killing by police, Tracy Wing says police accountability and deescalation training are more important than ever. 

Seventeen-year-old Riley Fairholm was fatally shot by Sûreté du Québec police 61 seconds after officers arrived on July 25, 2018, Wing said. 

"It's too easy to shoot someone who's in crisis rather than trying to negotiate — a 17-year-old boy, who everyone loved," Wing said. 

Quebec's police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), investigated the shooting, but a Crown prosecutor ultimately decided last year not to charge the officers involved in the shooting of Fairholm. 

According to the BEI, Fairholm was waving a gun while he was walking along a highway near his home in Lac-Brome. Wing says it was a BB gun. Fairholm had been struggling with depression.

Despite the closing of the investigation, Wing says she still has very little information about what happened that day.

"I want more accountability," she said.

"It was very clear Riley was a danger only to himself. There's a lot of things that we could learn from this intervention. Nothing's going to bring Riley back, but we could maybe prevent some of these things from happening."

Riley Fairholm's family is struggling to move on from his death and has filed a complaint with Quebec's Police Ethics Commission against provincial police and the BEI. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Wing is holding a vigil Saturday evening in front of the SQ station where the officers involved in the shooting work. 

She wants them to know she hasn't forgotten what happened, and to send the message that she doesn't want her son to have died in vain. 

She notes that just this year three people in crisis died during interactions with Quebec provincial police.

"I'm not sure that they're even comfortable going to these calls," she said.

Wing says police need better training to respond to calls involving people in mental distress, like her son. 

She has filed complaints with Quebec's police ethics commissioner against both the BEI and provincial police, and is considering filing a civil suit agains the officers involved.

With files from Antoni Nerestant


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