RCMP respond to Karen Lander's shooting death inquest

The RCMP are welcoming recommendations from a coroner's report on the police shooting death of a Yellowknife woman last year.

Inquest aimed 6 recommendations at the RCMP

RCMP in Yellowknife have made changes following the death of Karen Lander.

 After a standoff, the 42-year-old was shot to death by police in March of 2012.

Earlier this year, the Northwest Territories Chief Coroner held an inquest into Lander's death. A number of recommendations came out of the inquest, including six suggestions on how the RCMP could avoid such tragedy in the future.

At a press conference this afternoon, which was closed to the public, police said they welcomed the recommendations.

They listed the modifications and policy changes they've made since the inquest wrapped up in March, including relocating the non-lethal weapons so Emergency Response Team members have easier access to them.

But police said on the day of the incident, officers had pepper spray and tear gas on hand, and non-lethal weapons wouldn't have helped. Police said because they didn't know Lander's gun wasn't loaded when she pointed it at them, they considered it a lethal threat, which is why police used lethal force and shot Lander. 

Other recommendations from the inquest were to develop policies and procedures for having mental health workers as part of negotiations with someone has barricaded him or herself off and may be armed. It was also recommended to have on-going contact with family members throughout a negotiation.

But Chief Superintendent Wade Blake said broader changes are needed.

"If there was one thing that could be done better, it's perhaps the way the community can address — or do address — people with mental health issues."

Blake said the shooting of Lander was justified, but mistakes were made. He said an ambulance should have been called to the scene before the shooting, and police should have knocked on doors instead of phoning neighbouring houses to make sure the area was evacuated.

"Because clearly a home did get hit and clearly people from that home were in jeopardy."

Blake said four of the six coroner's jury recommendations were already  RCMP policy. Blake said because the procedure wasn't followed, innocent peoples' lives were jeopardized, something he doesn't want to see happen again.