Nfld. & Labrador

Amid grief, Jorden McKay's family asks: Why did police shoot to kill?

The sister of the Corner Brook man killed on Tuesday speaks of her family's loss, and the pain of unanswered questions around his death.

Father of 2, with lengthy criminal record, shot by police Tuesday

Jorden McKay's sister, Lisa McKay-Greening, says she has no answers for all her questions surrounding his death. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The bewildering questions of Lisa McKay-Greening's new reality — of losing her brother in a burst of violence — replay themselves over and over in a painful loop. 

"You close your eyes, and you're just there, and you're saying, what could've happened? What could I done differently?" she told CBC News. 

Jorden McKay, 27, was shot by an on-duty Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Tuesday night in Corner Brook, and died an hour later in hospital. 

McKay-Greening said her family has been given no explanation as to how that confrontation went so wrong.

"My brother is dead, and I just want to know why. What could've happened for them to do that to him?" she said.

"Why shoot to kill?"

Jorden McKay had a lengthy criminal record, with his most recent charge coming a few days before his death. (Facebook)

'He loved his children'

The tragedy on Tuesday night stands in stark contrast to McKay's mood earlier that day, said McKay-Greening. She said he was upbeat, after spending the day filing an application to go back to school in an effort to turn his life around.

"He loved his family, he loved his children. He would do anything for anybody, and that's just the person he was. He wanted to better himself," she said.

McKay, a father of two, also had a lengthy criminal record, most recently charged just three days before the shooting, for assault and breaching a court condition. 

McKay-Greening herself said she had bailed him out, and was on the phone with him when officers knocked on the door of his rental apartment on Carriage Lane late Tuesday. She said she heard two officers, and "they were angry." Her brother then hung up the phone.

"My gut told me to go there," she said.

With her daughter in tow, the two arrived at McKay's to see an ambulance and police cars. The ambulance left and police wouldn't provide any information at the home, she said.

"What happened in those 10 minutes that it took me to get to his house?" she said.

McKay-Greening says she saw the ambulance and police cars when she arrived at her brother's apartment shortly after the shooting, but was given no information. (Cherie Wheeler/CBC)

Questions, and more questions

With no answers, she, her daughter and McKay's mother headed to the hospital, where McKay-Greening said they waited for hours before being brought to a private room to speak to the medical team and police. 

There, they were told by police at about 3 a.m. that McKay was dead. According to police, McKay died in hospital at about 12:30 a.m.

"My mother begged, and we begged, like please tell us what happened. What happened? They said we can't tell you what happened," she recalled.

"They just said there was going to be an investigation."

About two hours later, McKay-Greening learned via a post on social media that her brother had died because he was shot by an on-duty police officer.

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police have been dispatched in Corner Brook to investigate the shooting. That investigation will in turn be reviewed by a police oversight agency from Alberta. The two RNC officers involved have been placed on leave while these investigations are underway.

Police run-ins

As McKay-Greening recounted the last few days to CBC, her composure wavered and broke multiple times. But she also was frank about her brother's frequent run-ins with police — and pointed to that frequency as one of the mystifying aspects of his death.

"I know they got to do their job," she said.

My brother is dead, and I just want to know why.- Lisa McKay-Greening

"They've dealt with Jorden enough to know, he would never — there's no report saying he would ever attack a police officer."

McKay-Greening added McKay was peaceful when arrested on Sunday, with those officers even taking him to McDonald's before putting him behind bars.

No matter what else happens, she said she'll continue to press for answers.

"My brother is dead, and I just want to know why, what could've happened for them to do that to him."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Colleen Connors