Saskatoon

'It's been almost two years': Family of man who died in police encounter still waiting for answers

Josh Megeney’s family still doesn’t know what happened inside that bedroom. But they do know the 28-year-old died from bullet wounds after an encounter with police.

Sask. has had 16 people die in police incidents since 2000

Josh Megeney's family wants more information about how he was shot and killed. (Facebook)

This story is part of Deadly Force, a CBC News investigation into police-involved fatalities in Canada.


Josh Megeney's family still doesn't know what happened inside that bedroom.

They don't know why Megeney was in that house.

But they do know the 28-year-old died from bullet wounds after an encounter with police.

"We don't even know what happened to Josh and it's been almost two years," said John Megeney, Josh's father, in an interview from his home in Medicine Hat.

A provincial breakdown of people who died during police encounters from 2000-2017 (CBC News )

Deadly Force: 16 people died in police encounters in Sask. since 2000

A team of CBC researchers spent six months assembling the first Canada-wide database of every person who died or was killed during a police intervention.

Of the 461 deaths in the database, which captures the years 2000 to 2017, 16 happened in Saskatchewan. 

Of those 16, 12 died from gunshot wounds. All but one were men. 

A breakdown of how people who died in police encounters died in Canada (CBC News )

Mystery surrounding fatal standoff 

Megeney was one of those men.

His fatal encounter with Saskatoon police on Oct. 6, 2016 began with officers being called to the 500 Block of Avenue Q in for a report of break-in.

The homeowner told CBC News at the time that he called police after he came out and noticed something amiss. 

Police said that when officers searched the home they saw Megeney through a doorway, holding a gun. Shots were fired.

Police have never clarified who shot first, or whether Megeney fired a gun at all.

By mid-morning, officers had swarmed the area. A tense standoff ensued. It ended when police entered the home and found the 28-year-old dead, nearly eight hours after officers first entered the house. 

Police responded to a home in the 500 block of Avenue Q N. in Saskatoon on Oct. 6, 2016 after a report that a gun shot has been fired. (CBC)

Scott Spencer, the lawyer now representing Megeney's family, said many questions remain about that day.

"This is a police involved shooting and we'd like to know how that came to be."

Wood chips in bullet wounds raise questions 

At the time, Megeney's friends said he'd been living on the streets with his girlfriend, struggling with addictions. 

Spencer says while details about the shooting are sparse, there is evidence that the bullets that killed Megeney were fired through a door. The family was told there were wood chips embedded in his wounds. 

"There is some suggestion he was shot through a door and that's a long ways away from an individual pointing a weapon at a police officer," Spencer said.

Josh Megeney died during a police standoff on Oct. 6, 2016. (Facebook )

The information about the wood chips came from the brief autopsy report, Spencer said, but that is all the information the family has gleaned from police.  

The family hasn't heard any further details about the case. They don't know the names of the officers involved. They don't know if any charges will be laid against anybody.

And while Spencer says he respects the criminal investigations process, he thinks there has to be a better way to get families more timely information. 

Unclear if charges will be laid 

Saskatoon Police Service spokesperson Alyson Edwards said in a written statement that there is an "ongoing review by the Crown" and there was oversight from Ministry of Justice.

In a statement, the ministry of justice confirmed that an independent observer has been appointed, but would not say who that observer was. The statement also said the at-issue charges can not be addressed. 

That means it's unclear if there will be an inquest into Megeney's death. 

Josh Megeney, 28, died inside a house in the 500 Block of Avenue Q North after police were called there for a report of a break-and-enter in progress (Facebook )

Saskatoon Police Service Superintendent Brian Shalovelo could not speak directly to the Megeney case, but says there are circumstances where an officer feels their life or someone else's life is in danger and lethal force is needed. 

"We've had situations where for the protection of their life or protection of others they have used their firearm because they have to stop the threat immediate and there is no lesser tool available that can do that so that's why they use their firearm," he said. 

The family, Spencer says, simply wants answers. 

"Facts aren't going to bring Josh back, but certainly will help the family put it in perspective and know what the circumstances were," he said. 

Spencer says the family is prepared for any outcome in the case and are prepared to acknowledge that Megeney had broken into the house.

"We are 16, 17 months after the tragedy and mom and dad are sitting in Medicine Hat and they really don't what happened to their son and I think we can all put ourselves in their situation and realize how difficult that is," Spencer said. 

"We talk about healing, well it's tough to get that started when you don't know." 

About the Author

Charles Hamilton is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.