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Coroner concludes teen shot by police was not ‘suicide by cop’

The 2018 inquest into the death of Riley Fairholm requires better training of police on mental health interventions and stronger communication between health and school systems.

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Riley Fairholm, 17, was on the brink of suicide, armed with a pellet gun and calling 911 himself the night he was shot by police in 2018, but the coroner said his death was a death sentence. I concluded that it was not a simple “suicide by suicide”. Cops,” as some witnesses to the public hearing suggested.

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Instead, coroner Géhane Kamel said after her six-month inquest that, barring faults in Quebec’s health and education system, and mistakes made by police officers who had spoken to him for less than 100 yen, the young man was dead. I concluded that I could still be alive today. A minute before shooting him, he did not perform a life-saving operation.

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“Although police officers are justified in firing when threatened,” Kamel wrote. Riley would not have died if his parents had not been left helpless. From my point of view, a fatal encounter with the police was the last resort at his disposal. ”

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The coroner said Fairholm’s legacy should remind authorities that dialogue is key in these cases. Citing several past instances of people suffering from mental health crises being murdered by police officers, such as Mario Hummel in 1998, there has been a previous effort to improve police training to deal with these situations. reiterated the coroner’s recommendation.

At 1:21 am on July 25, 2018, a man identified as Riley Fairholm called 911 and reported seeing an armed man screaming and walking alone down Knowlton Road. Eastern He makes his way to Cowansville from the township Luck his Brom. The caller described the armed man as white, plump, about six feet tall, dressed in black, and carrying a knapsack.

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Three Sûreté du Québec police cars carrying six officers were dispatched to the scene. They found Fairholm at 1:43 am on Knowlton Rd. Near Victoria Street in the plank restaurant parking lot. Officers confirmed that Fairholm was armed, communicated with him for “about a minute,” and repeatedly asked him to put down his weapon, the report said.

Fairholm did not comply. He was clearly in danger, the coroner wrote, Fairholm began brandishing his weapon in the officer’s direction from time to time. At one point, Fairholm exclaimed, “I’ve been planning this for five years!” He shot Fairholm in the forehead at 1:44 a.m., a minute after his arrival.

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While waiting for an ambulance, the SQ officers did not perform life-saving techniques. At the inquest, officers were heard to believe Fairholm was already dead. Fairholm said he was taken to Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. After shooting Fairholm, police realized his weapon was a pellet gun, reports say.

No charges were filed against the police officer who shot Fairholm. Fairholm’s parents have filed a complaint with the Police Ethics Commission, suing SQ and officer Joël Desruisseaux.

Fairholm first developed symptoms of depression in May 2015, three years before his death. His primary care physician referred him to Youth Mental Health Services, suggested he be evaluated by a psychologist, and, if necessary, see a psychiatrist.

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The psychologist was unable to make an accurate diagnosis in the first session and recommended a longer evaluation period. She met him several times between his 2015 and hers 2016 and suggested that he be tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at school. The school did not evaluate.

The psychologist submitted a report to her family doctor in September 2015. In January 2016, Fairholm missed his treatment appointment and he and his mother informed his psychiatrist in April that they had decided to stop treatment.

The family doctor found nothing surprising in the therapist’s 2015 report, but the doctor didn’t contact the therapist afterward, so he didn’t know Fairholm had stopped treatment.

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In early 2018, Fairholm was evaluated by a neuropsychologist and a treatment plan was recommended in a report submitted to her family doctor. No follow-up of Fairholm’s adherence to prescribed medication was performed, nor was suicide risk assessed.

On the eve of the fatal event, Fairholm left two letters, one for each of his parents. He also sent his mother a “I love you” message. The coroner chose not to include the contents of the letter in the report. I’m here.

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Psychiatrist Dr. Alain D. Lesage reviewed Fairholm’s case as part of the inquest. Lesage researched Fairholm’s medical files, police reports, an autopsy, and interviewed his parents and friends. He lamented the fact that although many experts were aware of Fairholm’s difficulties, there was little follow-up to learn how he was suffering.

Lesage pointed out that even mundane events can trigger suicidal crises when someone is in emotional distress. Fairholm is having more and more trouble at school, recently learning that he and his classmates will not be able to graduate. He also had a “difficult exchange” with a close female friend.

The psychiatrist concluded that the mental health system was not following best practices in this case. If Fairholm had been advised by a medical professional to take prescribed medications in close cooperation with his family, and if he had undergone psychotherapy and psychiatric follow-up at the same time, his There may have been depression, a risk of suicide. Decrease.

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“I agree with this assessment,” the coroner wrote. “Children in difficult situations need a village of support and I think Riley and his parents felt lonely. To do so, we need to talk to each other and build bridges, and these bridges have not been built between medical professionals, nor with the school environment.”

The coroner also noted in his report that he did not ask Fairholm enough questions during the 911 call.

The coroner recommended the Quebec Minister of Public Safety:

  • Make sure all officers understand the concept of “apparent death” and know that life-saving measures must be taken when in doubt.
  • Increase training at the Quebec National Police Academy on new strategies and tactics specifically for interventions involving persons at risk.
  • Implement annual retraining programs as soon as possible to enable incumbent police officers to better intervene with people at risk.
  • Train a 911 dispatcher to detect a possible call from a suicidal person.
  • Equip your SQ police car with a modern first aid kit for use in emergencies.
  • Launch an awareness campaign about the dangers of pellet gun possession.

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The coroner urged the Minister of Health and Social Services and Education of Quebec to ensure optimal communication between the various actors in the health and education system when dealing with people suffering from mental health problems. is recommended. The health and social services department should also provide access to mental health services that address the needs of English-speaking clients, the coroner recommended.

Fairholme’s inquest, ordered by Quebec’s chief coroner Pascale Descary in March 2021, was linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the three previous coroners assigned to the file, one after another for personal reasons. was delayed by the fact that he had to take turns with

The coroner noted this lengthy delay in his report. It is a pity that these parents had to wait four years for an answer regarding their son’s death. Transparency and support are the best remedies to balm such great mourning. have any interest in ”

mlalonde@postmedia.com

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Coroner concludes teen shot by police was not ‘suicide by cop’

Source link Coroner concludes teen shot by police was not ‘suicide by cop’

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