Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in May 2023
At least 12 people had their lives taken in Canadian police actions in May 2023. This makes May the bloodiest month of police violence since October 2022, when at least a dozen people had their lives taken by cops. At least 35 people have had their lives taken through police actions so far this year.
Police across Canada shot and killed seven people in May. The officers who did the shootings belonged to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Toronto Police Service (TPS), RCMP in Manitoba, Halifax Police Service (HPS), Hamilton Police Service (HPS), and Calgary Police Service (CPS), who shot and killed two people in one incident. Three people died in police custody, including one intoxication arrest. One victim has been identified publicly as Andrew Geisler, who was shot and killed by a Toronto police officer while in mental distress.
At least five people had their lives taken in police actions in April 2023, at least eight people in March, at least six people in February, and at least four people in January. In 2022 there were at least 117 police-involved deaths in Canada.
The details below are based on police reports, reports from oversight agencies, and in some cases information from families. As always, because there are no formal, systemic mechanisms for documenting and reporting police killings publicly in Canada, all numbers presented for police-involved deaths represent an undercount.
In addition to the known cases, there are cases of police-involved deaths in May that have no reporting. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia reports a death in Chase involving the RCMP but provides no details publicly.
May 3-7. Niagara Regional Police Service. St. Catharines. Arrest.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death of a 57-year-old man following his arrest in St. Catharines, Ontario. They report that on May 3, 2023, Niagara Regional Police Service officers attended a home in the area of Pelham Road and Powerview Avenue regarding what they call a domestic incident.
Officers reportedly asked a man to leave the home and claim he began causing a disturbance in the front yard. Officers attempted to arrest him and allegedly a struggle occurred. The man was handcuffed, but a short time afterwards went unconscious. Paramedics arrived and transported the man to hospital.
On May 7, 2023, the man was pronounced dead in hospital.
The SIU has assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to examine the death.
May 9. Ontario Provincial Police. Kirkland Lake. Shooting.
Ontario Provincial Police shot and killed a 66-year-old man in Kirkland Lake on the morning of May 9. The SIU reports that at approximately 7:30 AM, the OPP were called to the area of Duncan Avenue South and 2nd Street East regarding a man allegedly carrying an edged weapon. Officers encountered the man in the school parking lot of École Catholique Jean-Vanier. Police claim the man refused to drop the weapon, and some type of “nteraction” occurred.
At least one officer deployed their conducted energy weapon at the man, and another officer discharged his firearm at the man. The man was struck and transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The SIU has assigned four investigators and three forensic investigators to examine the killing.
May 10. Andrew Geisler. Toronto Police. Shooting.
Toronto police shot and killed a 40-year-old man, identified by family as Andrew Geisler, who was in distress on Danforth in the city’s east end on May 10. The SIU reports that the killing happened near Danforth and Victoria Park Avenues shortly after noon. They say that an individual flagged down a Toronto Police Service officer after seeing a man in distress at the rear of the Shoppers World located at 3003 Danforth Avenue. It was reportedly believed that the man was in possession of an edged weapon but no details on this, including what the man was doing with the alleged weapon, have been provided publicly.
The officer located the man. An interaction ensued, and the officer discharged his firearm. The man was struck and transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A direct witness, the person who called police because he believed Mr. Geisler was harming himself (not a threat to the public), says the officer first pulled out a taser but then “transitioned” to his service firearm.
His older sister, Lesley Geisler, says, “It was an unnecessary use of force, I don’t understand why he got shot twice. I don’t understand why they didn’t use a taser first. He went for the kill shot. He could’ve hit him in the arm, he could’ve hit in the leg, he could’ve tasered him — there were other options.”
She does not mince words in calling out the police violence for what it is, and the inappropriateness of police interacting with people in mental health crisis: “It was a horrible reaction to someone in mental distress. This was not a calm, collected way of dealing with someone. I would say he killed him.”
His family reports that Mr. Geisler was an ironworker who had struggled with alcoholism. They say he had gone to a treatment centre, but the root issues of his alcoholism were not addressed. On the day he was killed, he was in his other sister’s neighborhood and the family believes he was on his way to visit her. They say he was a kind and gentle person who would not hurt anyone except himself. This is reinforced by the witness statements about the day.
Policing is not about health care. Police are not the appropriate response to be deployed against people in crisis.
Mr. Geisler’s family has pointed to the lack of resources available for people dealing with such struggles, and the class inequality involved. According to Lesley Geisler, “Waitlists were long or full, and if you didn’t have 20 or 30 thousand, you were screwed.”
Lesley Geisler says the family found themselves fighting “an uphill battle” with a system that does not have the necessary resources to help vulnerable people. She said, “I think they’re working with the best with what they have, but they just don’t have the funding, there’s not enough help. The mental health crisis is so bad, they’re so overwhelmed.”
Meanwhile police budgets keep rising and rising. In Toronto alone the police budget is over one billion dollars.
The SIU has assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to examine the killing.
May 1-? Vancouver Police. Custody.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC has confirmed that a man who went into medical distress while in custody of the Vancouver Police Department on May 1, 2023, has died. The IIO have not reported the date or time of death.
According to the IIO, at around 4:15 PM on April 30, man was arrested and detained in cells at the Vancouver Police Department jail. The following morning, at approximately 8:25 AM, the man was found to be in medical distress, and Emergency Health Services were called. He was transported to a local hospital, where he has since died.
A Vancouver police jail guard has been suspended with pay over the death. The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) has been notified of the death and will conclude an investigation once the IIO concludes its investigation.
The crucial details of the man’s arrest, his time in detention, the nature of his medical distress, and the date and time of his death have not been provided by the VPD. Police have not said what actions led to the suspension of the Vancouver jail guard.
This is another example of police controlling the flow of information when they kill.
May 22. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu police and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). Police Chase.
The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) is investigating the death of a driver during a police chase on a highway near Boucherville, Quebec, on Montreal’s South Shore in the early morning of May 22. The incident involved Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu police and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).
The BEI reports that the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu police received a 911 call at around 3:35 AM and arrived at the scene of what they believed to have been a car theft. They pursued the vehicle on the highway and allegedly asked for backup at around 4 AM. SQ officers responded and installed a spike strip near Route 116, but they claim the driver bypassed the strip and continued on Highway 30 toward the ramp for Highway 20, where the vehicle crashed. The driver was subsequently transported to hospital where he was declared dead.
The BEI has assigned five investigators to examine the case. The BEI is not an independent agency and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) will be involved in the investigation.
May 23. Kingston Police. Fall.
The Special Investigations Unit is investigating the death of a 59-year-old woman in Kingston, Ontario, on the night of May 23. They report that at approximately 5:45 PM, police responded to a call about a woman in mental distress at 1620 Bath Street. Officers reportedly attempted to communicate with the woman.
At around 6 PM, a 911 call was received regarding a woman who fell from a balcony. Police exited the building and located the woman. She was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The SIU has assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to examine the death.
Police are not health care and are not the appropriate response to someone experiencing mental health crisis.
May 24. Manitoba RCMP. Portage la Prairie. Shooting.
A Manitoba RCMP officer shot and killed an 18-year-old in Portage la Prairie on May 24. Police claim that the officer was responding to a domestic disturbance call and that the youth was armed.
It is reported that RCMP were called to an apartment building on Hazel Bay in Portage la Prairie shortly after 1 AM. RCMP claim they found a woman safe in another apartment. They then went to the apartment where a person of interest lived. Officers used their tasers and one officer shot the youth. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police have not released any information about the alleged weapon.
May 25. Nunavik Police. Inukjuak. Intoxication Arrest.
The BEI is investigating a person’s death in an Inukjuak, Nunavik, jail cell following an intoxication arrest on May 25. The BEI reports that at around 7 PM police responded to a complaint of someone who was allegedly intoxicated and knocking on the door of a residence. The person was arrested for public intoxication about a half-hour later and taken to the Nunavik police station in Inukjuak. At around 10 PM the person was found unconscious by a cellmate. The victim was brought to the local health centre and pronounced dead at about 10:40 PM.
The BEI has not revealed the person’s name, age, or gender.
The BEI is not an independent agency and will involve Montreal police in the investigation.
Several people have died in Nunavik police custody following intoxication arrests over the last couple of years. Last year a woman from Akulivik and a woman from Puvirnituq were taken into custody and later found dead in their jail cells. In both cases the BEI let cops off.
May 27. Halifax Regional Police. Shooting.
Halifax Regional Police officers shot and killed a man in Dartmouth on the morning of May 27. It is reported that they were called regarding a weapons report around 9 AM. Police claim a man with a weapon was seen in the area of a sports field near Micmac Boulevard and Woodland Avenue. Multiple officers shot the man, who was then transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The killing is being investigated by the Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT).
Police claims have not been confirmed publicly and it has not been disclosed what type of weapon the man was allegedly carrying.
May 27. Hamilton Police. Shooting.
Twenty-seven-year-old Carissa MacDonald of Stoney Creek and 28-year-old Aaron Stone of Hamilton were shot and killed by their landlord (57) as they tried to flee their rental home in Stoney Creek, Ontario, on May 27. The landlord reportedly then barricaded himself inside and was killed in a shootout with Hamilton police.
Hamilton police report that the landlord who lived in a unit above the tenants, who lived in a basement unit. They claim he was killed hours after police negotiators tried to resolve the situation as area residents sheltered in place.
According to Hamilton police, they were called to the home at around 5:40 PM and the man and woman victims were pronounced dead within minutes of police arrival. Several handguns and rifles were reportedly registered to the house, although police have not announced who owned the firearms.
The SIU has since reported that Hamilton police exchanged gunfire with the man, who was struck and subsequently died.
In a statement to reporters, Sergeant Steve Bereziuk made the rather shocking statement that, “These are not people that this should happen to. They’re not involved in any level of criminality or lifestyle that may lead to an incident like this. They are truly innocent victims, hardworking people, young people. They were engaged to be married. And this is a very tragic incident.”
Clearly police view someone who someone who might have committed a crime, been known to police, or lived a certain lifestyle, are unworthy victims or are people that it is alright for this to happen to.
At this point, few other details have been made available publicly. Police have not released the name of landlord, they have not identified the firearms involved or the number of shots fired. CTV News Toronto reports that the home has been owned by Terry Brekka since 2003.
May 29. Calgary Police Service. Shootings. Two Killed.
Two people were shot and killed by Calgary police who opened fire on a cube van they believed to be stolen. The killings occurred during a vehicular pursuit on Memorial Drive.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating. It is reported that Calgary police claim a security guard at a private property in the 0 to 100 block of Manning Close NE reported three individuals believed to be “impaired” and “suspicious.”
Police believe the three fled in a stolen five-ton cube van and struck a nearby building and barricade around 10:15 AM. They claim the van was then driven around the northeast in an “erratic manner.”
Police located the van on westbound Memorial Drive and several officers began following the vehicle while others worked to close nearby intersections.
The van allegedly entered eastbound Memorial Drive at the Edmonton Trail intersection.
Police claim they attempted a traffic stop unsuccessfully but did also say the van was being driven at low speed.
Shortly before 11 AM, a CPS officer discharged their service weapon. Two people inside the van were killed and a third was taken to hospital.
Calgary police state that the officer who fired their weapon has been with the CPS for 13 years.
Witnesses at the scene have stated that they saw police shoot through the driver and passenger windows of the van. They also report that they dropped to the ground in fear of being struck by stray bullets.
Nothing has been said publicly about any non-lethal attempts to stop what was reportedly a slow moving vehicle.
No one should be killed by police for alleged theft of any sort. This has the appearance of an extrajudicial execution for suspected property crime. One also has to ask why police were firing at passengers.