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Canada 'He's not forgotten': How a fatal shooting changed the way Montreal police deal with the homeless

11:56  13 june  2018
11:56  13 june  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

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How A 20-Year-Old Student Fought To Change Canada' s No-Fly List. So when those who knew him heard the 34-year-old homeless man had been fatally shot by Montreal police following an altercation, the news hit a nerve.

Man fatally shot by Montreal police after stabbing. "I'm going to offer again to the police chief, but this time directly, the help of the mission in training programs for police officers how to deal with stressful situations with people who are homeless ," said Pearce.

a man posing for a photo: Jimmy Cloutier, 38, was shot and killed by Montreal police on Jan. 6, 2017. His death has led to several significant improvements in the relationship between the city's homeless community and police.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Jimmy Cloutier, 38, was shot and killed by Montreal police on Jan. 6, 2017. His death has led to several significant improvements in the relationship between the city's homeless community and police.

Two years before Jimmy Cloutier was fatally shot outside a Montreal homeless shelter, he made a hauntingly accurate prediction to his mother, Carole Fortin: "I'm going to be killed by the police."

At the time, she thought the comment was a symptom of her son's schizophrenia.

"He was so discouraged," Fortin says in French. "And he even told me, 'Mum, hug your son because you won't be able to later.'"

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a car parked on a city street: Montreal police at the scene of Cloutier's shooting near the Old Brewery Mission.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Montreal police at the scene of Cloutier's shooting near the Old Brewery Mission.

On Jan. 6, 2017, Cloutier's prediction became reality.

The impact of his death has helped transform the relationship between the shelter and the police force. The two organizations have partnered to build closer ties and train officers to deal with the city's homeless residents, some of whom have complex mental health issues.

Deadly shooting

The sequence of events that led to Cloutier's death began at about 2:25 p.m., when Montreal police received a call about a stabbing near the Old Brewery Mission. Officers spotted the suspect, Cloutier, leaving the shelter quickly with a bag in one hand and a cup in the other.

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Alexandre Berthelot has had his share of dealing with Montreal police . It' s like, 'Just add it to the collection.'" The city' s new leader has made a big deal of how to change the approach to the homeless .

The subject of how much training police receive in dealing with the mentally ill has surfaced repeatedly at the coroner’ s inquest into the fatal police shooting of Alain Magloire, another mentally ill man who was fatally shot by police last year after he tried to strike an officer with a hammer.

Security footage shows Cloutier slip past two officers on the sidewalk near the shelter's entrance. The officers pause and then follow him. A third officer standing by a police car on the road is seen closing in on foot.

Cloutier sees the officers approaching, drops his bag, throws down his drink, reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a knife. The size and type of knife are unclear. The officers immediately draw their guns.

Cloutier then picks up his bag and walks out of frame with the officers following.

Quebec's bureau of independent investigations, which investigates deaths involving police, says Cloutier ignored orders to throw away the knife. He lunged at the officers, the bureau says, and that's when one of them fired his weapon.

Jimmy Cloutier, 38, was pronounced dead in hospital later that day.

'Enough is enough'

Jimmy Cloutier was the fourth homeless man to be fatally shot by Montreal police over a period of about six years. No officers were charged in any of the previous cases. Cloutier's case is currently before Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions, who will decide if any officers will be charged.

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In an interview with the Montreal Gazette on Tuesday, he answered some questions about the Q: Montreal ’ s first official homelessness census counted roughly 3,000 homeless people in Montreal . Q: Do you feel Montreal police officers receive enough training on how to deal with those situations?

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A CBC News investigation published in April found that 461 people died in Canada as a result of police encounters from 2000 to 2017. Like Cloutier, many of the individuals who died had mental health issues.

Cloutier began using the mission's services in 2005, and completed a two-year residential program with the shelter and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.

In a statement released after his death, the mission says Cloutier was taking computer classes and saving money to try to "better his life."

a close up of a person: Carole Fortin, Cloutier's mother, says he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his teens.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Carole Fortin, Cloutier's mother, says he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his teens.

"Jimmy was a gentleman of the street," his mother says. "He was a guy who was clean, responsible." She says he was a generous person who loved restaurants, cooking and people-watching.

A Quebec court document search reveals he also had run-ins with the law. The charges go back to the mid-1990s and include assault, trespassing and failure to attend court. The sentences range from small fines to 10 months in custody.

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The coroner also noted weaknesses in how police dealt with Magloire, someone who was visibly in psychological Alain Magloire’ s fatal police shooting leads to calls for stun guns. Man dies after police shooting outside Montreal bus station. Police say they lack resources to handle the homeless .

But the mission says Cloutier never had any problems at the shelter.

In fact, president and CEO Matthew Pearce says his reaction when Cloutier's life was cut short just steps away from the building was simply: "Enough is enough."

He demanded a meeting with then-police chief Philippe Pichet.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Matthew Pearce, president and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, says he wanted to help police build closer ties with his clients at the shelter.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Matthew Pearce, president and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, says he wanted to help police build closer ties with his clients at the shelter.

Pearce wanted to focus on two issues: police training and building trust.

He thought the force could benefit from his staff's experience with de-escalating conflicts involving their unique clientele. He says police officers often try to contain and control situations, whereas his staff focus on giving people time and space.

"Now, we're not wearing police uniforms and we're not carrying guns," he says. "But every day we're dealing with situations of crises, of tension, of conflict, and almost to a one they are resolved by giving the person time to explain why they're so darned angry."

The partnership between the Old Brewery Mission and Montreal police was announced in February 2017, weeks after Cloutier's death. To date, more than 240 police recruits have completed a mission-led training session, which covers myths surrounding homelessness, services offered by the mission, and how to intervene. In addition to the recruits, nearly 800 officers are expected to complete the training by the summer.

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Pearce is imploring people not to assume the incident is representative of how the Montreal police deal with the city' s homeless . “There are others in the [ Montreal police department] who are doing a tremendous job [on the issue of homelessness ],” he said.

He believes one of the women is Nadreau’ s partner. Other police shootings in Montreal . Fatal shootings involving police have attracted significant attention in the city in recent months. In January, police fatally shot a 34-year-old homeless man named Farshad Mohammadi during an

"It's an opportunity to really, really get to know each other. But not only that, it's how to better intervene," says Carlo De Angelis, the force's Aboriginal liaison officer. "Sometimes we're making an intervention and we realize it's not working exactly like we'd like, but [mission staff] might have that piece that we were missin g."

a man in a uniform standing in front of a window: Aboriginal liaison officer Carlo De Angelis says training provided by Old Brewery Mission staff has improved intervention tactics.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Aboriginal liaison officer Carlo De Angelis says training provided by Old Brewery Mission staff has improved intervention tactics.

There has also been an effort to build more trust. Since announcing the partnership, dozens of officers have visited the mission to serve dinner. Officers also stop by the shelter's internet cafe.

"We don't want police officers to come and serve a meal dressed in their civilian wear," Pearce says. "We want them to look like police officers so people realize that behind that badge, behind that uniform, is a human being as well."

Cloutier's legacy

Mission staff appreciate what they see as a more humane approach from officers.

"They're not rough and tough as they used to be," Vincent Ozrout says. "They'll offer choices to the person: 'You can either leave on your own or we can help you out.' Instead of just barging in, grabbing and leaving."

Pearce says the new police chief, Martin Prud'homme, seems as committed to the partnership as his predecessor.

a group of people looking at the camera: Since Cloutier's death, dozens of Montreal police officers have served dinner at the Old Brewery Mission.© Old Brewery Mission Since Cloutier's death, dozens of Montreal police officers have served dinner at the Old Brewery Mission.

"It's not a complete change in culture, but it's all heading in the kind of direction that encourages us to keep going," Pearce says.

But standing in the spot where Jimmy Cloutier lost his life, Pearce can't help but remember what it took to get to this point.

"He's not forgotten," he says.

"If he knew that his death was going to bring this kind of an outcome … he might feel that his life had had some meaning after all."

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