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Family of man shot by Windsor cops wants coroner's inquest called

The Special Investigations Unit has been looking into the case after Matthew Mahoney's death in March.

‘You think about it throughout your day, in the most random moments,’ says Michael Mahoney

Matthew Mahoney was 33 when he died in a police shooting on March 21, 2018. (Michael Mahoney)

The family of the man shot to death by Windsor police in March wants a coroner's inquest, regardless of the outcome of an ongoing SIU probe. 

Matthew Mahoney was 33 when he was fatally shot by Windsor police near the McDonald's at Wyandotte and Goyeau Streets. He would have turned 34 on Nov. 15.

And for eight months, Michael — his brother — has been searching for answers about what happened.

"This type of loss is so powerful and there's no reason for it. There are so many ways this could have been prevented," said Michael.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said Matthew Mahoney was shot multiple times by two police officers. Ten investigators had been assigned to determine whether police had followed the correct procedures in their interactions with him.

The investigation is now under the director's review. 

But even when the report does come out, Michael said it wouldn't be the full story.

He would've been very confused and very, very scared that morning.- Michael Mahoney

Previous hospitalizations

Michael described his brother as having struggled with an extreme and complex case of schizophrenia, along with some other mental health issues.

He would frequent the hospital, as a result of calling the police on himself, said Michael. His brother would then be put into a 72-hour observation period, where he would be given sedatives.

Michael Mahoney looks down at a photo of his brother, Matthew as a child. He says he's reminded of Matthew all the time, at the most random times. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

However, Michael said there were never any follow-ups from the hospital after Matthew was discharged, nor did doctors ask about previous behaviours leading up to the hospitalization.

"But it's the time leading up to the hospital visit that's critical. While they're in hospital and being treated, they're often in a much calmer environment," said Michael.

'He's tortured by this'

He described his brother as someone who enjoyed learning. Matthew had been interested in bitcoin mining and cryptocurrency most recently, said Michael.

But the medication had made things a bit foggy for his brother.

The day he died, Michael said his brother had been off his medication for months.

He said Matthew had described a "falling out with one of his health care providers over a late charge he couldn't afford to pay," as the reason for there being a lapse in his medication.

"I wasn't there, but knowing my brother's struggles, he's tortured by this for a long, long time," said Michael.

"He would've been very confused and very, very scared that morning."

Matthew Mahoney is remembered as being a curious person, who loved to learn. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

He describes the mental health system as one that's underfunded in Ontario.

"It needs drastic reform."

'It seems so unfair'

Michael describes the grief he's coping with as a different kind than that of losing someone to illness or an accident.

A shooting was involved, he said, and "it's harder for people to come to terms with that."

"It seems so unfair," he said.

You think about it throughout your day, in the most random moments.- Michael Mahoney

He's received many messages from across the country, from people who have either experienced something similar or worry for their family members, for fear that they could go the same way his brother did.

And it's not so easy for the family to navigate the system to understand what had happened to Matthew, Michael explained.

He said the family cannot afford to hire a lawyer or an advocate to help them stay up-to-date, or push for the coroner's inquest which his family wants.

Emotionally, he said it can be challenging trying to have enough energy to keep up with the investigation and to figure out what happened to his brother.

Some mornings, he even finds making breakfast difficult.

"You think about it throughout your day, in the most random moments," he said.

"It's the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning, that's if you didn't have nightmares about it in the first place."

With files from Windsor Morning