Household of Ojibwe man killed by Ottawa police calls for brand new psychological well being technique

Household of Ojibwe man killed by Ottawa police calls for brand new psychological well being technique

The morning Greg Ritchie died, he was on his approach to the grocery retailer to buy cake combine in an effort to cheer up his brother and sister-in-law.

Household of Ojibwe man killed by Ottawa police calls for brand new psychological well being technique

Chantel Ritchie, his sister-in-law, mentioned it was a practice of theirs to bake collectively. The three, who lived collectively, had been having monetary struggles recently. However her brother-in-law was excited as a result of he had simply obtained funding from the Ontario Incapacity Help Program.

Earlier than heading to the shop that January day, Greg had taken out a few of that cash to assist his brother, Nick. He’d received a parking ticket when the 2 went to Ottawa’s Wabano Centre collectively trying to get mental-health help for Greg, who was an Ojibwe member of Saugeen First Nation.

“We simply didn’t have the cash to pay for it,” Chantel mentioned in regards to the parking ticket.

Greg’s gesture that morning touched her, she mentioned, as a result of it confirmed how little it takes for somebody to make a giant distinction, even when they’re going by way of their very own struggles.

Story continues under commercial

“It was like, ‘We’re speculated to be attempting to deal with him.’ And that reminiscence is one thing that I’ll maintain on to endlessly.”

Learn extra:

Ottawa police union defends utilizing ‘skinny blue line’ once more after Edmonton taking pictures

Nick and Chantel heard the yelling and gunshots from their house, she mentioned. They may see police and paramedics attempting to assist somebody who had been shot.

It was Greg. He was shot and killed in an encounter with two Ottawa law enforcement officials on Jan. 31, 2019, at 30 years previous.

4 years after Greg’s dying, a lawsuit filed by his kinfolk has been settled out of courtroom for an undisclosed quantity, the regulation agency representing the household’s case introduced late final month.

However regardless that the authorized motion has formally ended, Chantel says she doesn’t really feel any closure.

The household continues to be advocating publicly for the police to implement a brand new mental-health technique. And they aren’t alone of their pleas, with the case echoing that of Abdirahman Abdi, who additionally struggled along with his psychological well being and died in July 2016 after an altercation with Ottawa police.

“If what we’ve finished will assist to stop one thing like this from occurring once more, and if I might really feel like what occurred to Greg will assist to cease another person from shedding their life in the identical approach, then I can really feel some closure,” Chantel mentioned.

Story continues under commercial

The assertion of declare that Greg’s household filed in courtroom says he was on the Elmvale Purchasing Centre on the morning of his dying getting groceries and selecting up his prescription.

Simply earlier than 8 a.m., Ottawa law enforcement officials Thanh Tran and Daniel Vincelette had been deployed to the mall after receiving a name a couple of man who allegedly had a “knife hid below his coat,” in accordance with a report from the Particular Investigations Unit.

Learn extra:

Homicide cost now laid in dying of 7-week-old boy, Ottawa police say

The impartial civilian company investigates incidents in Ontario involving police that lead to dying, severe damage, allegations of sexual assault or a firearm being discharged at somebody.

One of many officers approached Greg in an try to have interaction in dialog, however in accordance with the SIU report, he turned pissed off, threatened the officer with an object in his hand and waved it of their course. The thing was a ceremonial merchandise consisting of a rock connected to a foot-long stick, the report says — a cultural artifact of Ritchie’s Indigenous heritage.

One of many officers tasered him, however the report says that lasted for less than a second earlier than Greg “raised the item above his head and swung it on the officer.”

Tran and Vincelette then shot at Greg 11 occasions, the report says. Three of the bullets hit him. They handcuffed him and administered emergency first support whereas awaiting an ambulance. Greg later died in hospital.

Story continues under commercial

Joseph Martino, the director of the SIU, concluded in his February 2020 report there have been no affordable grounds to cost the officers.

Chantel described her brother-in-law as somebody who cherished his Indigenous group, discovering time to volunteer and commerce his artwork at powwows. He was blissful, she mentioned, and “knew he was cherished earlier than he died.”

Though he was form and delicate in some ways, his disabilities generally made him tough to strategy and it took time for folks to know him, she mentioned. Psychological-health practitioners “knew methods to work with him,” mentioned Chantel.

“And in a approach, he realized to have the ability to belief them and so they’d be capable to to construct a bond,” she mentioned. “After that, he would come and convey them little trinkets and issues that he made.”

The household of Abdirahman Abdi launched the same lawsuit in opposition to the Ottawa Police Service. The swimsuit was settled 5 years after his dying, and as a part of the settlement, the Ottawa Police Service initiated a mental-health response technique below former chief Peter Sloly.

Learn extra:

Ottawa man charged with prison negligence, arson in Orleans explosion

Lawrence Greenspon, a lawyer who represented the households of each Ritchie and Abdi of their respective fits, says there was little progress.

Story continues under commercial

“It’s been greater than seven years since Abdi died, and there’s nonetheless no change,” he mentioned.

“There’s nonetheless loads of dialogue, conferences and panels and all this different stuff. One thing’s received to truly change earlier than someone else with mental-health points dies by the hands of the police.”

In January 2021, the Ottawa Police Service supplied a report back to town’s police providers board that outlined its session strategy for a mental-health response technique.

The police service mentioned that it could prepare extra officers to have the ability to deal with mental-health calls. It mentioned the coaching can be designed and administered based mostly on enter from the group.

Performing deputy police chief Trish Ferguson says the Metropolis of Ottawa is now answerable for implementing the technique and dealing in partnership with police.

She mentioned members of town council met this week to debate the implementation technique, however there isn’t a particular timeline connected to it.

Calls to motion from the households and group are being heard, Ferguson mentioned, and police have consulted with group teams. Requested why it has taken so lengthy, she mentioned she needs it to be finished the suitable approach.

“On daily basis is just too lengthy if someone passes away in the neighborhood from a psychological sickness the place they may have been served,” mentioned Ferguson. “However I wish to be certain that we get it proper.”

Story continues under commercial

A part of the police’s plan consists of serving to to implement the 988 suicide disaster line that’s anticipated to start working this fall.

A metropolis spokesperson didn’t present any vital updates, however mentioned employees are working towards reporting on a remaining model of the technique, and they’re attempting to revamp town’s 911 name centre in order that calls associated to psychological well being shall be rerouted to people who find themselves particularly educated to deal with them.