SHERBROOKE, Que. — A neuropsychiatrist who saw a Quebec teen just months before he was killed by police in July 2018 told a coroner’s inquiry Thursday he’d diagnosed him as suffering from symptoms related to traumatic brain injury.
The inquest is looking into the death of Riley Fairholm, a 17-year-old who was killed by Quebec provincial police after they encountered him in distress and waving an air pistol early on July 25, 2018.
The entire interaction in the parking lot of an abandoned restaurant in Lac-Brome, Que., lasted just over a minute, with a veteran police officer repeatedly telling to Fairholm to drop his weapon before one of the six officers who responded fired, striking the teen in the head.
Police have told the inquest he was yelling incoherently and pacing while waving the weapon but did not appear to point it at any officer in particular.
Fairholm had left a suicide note and texted his mother in the minutes before he was shot. He had called 911 on himself and provided police with an accurate description of what he was wearing and that he had a weapon. The responding officers, however, were unaware that the person in front of them was the one who had called 911 and that the weapon he held was an air pistol.
The shooting was investigated by Quebec’s independent police watchdog, after which the Crown decided not to lay charges.
Fairholm’s family have said the police were too quick to shoot and they have accused the police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, of lacking transparency.
Several doctors testified Thursday before coroner Géhane Kamel, including neuropsychiatrist Dr. Sylvain Boucher, who assessed Fairholm in February 2018 and recommended treatment for post-concussion syndrome. He identified at least two incidents of traumatic brain injury in Fairholm’s youth, including a skiing accident at age 12.
Boucher told the inquiry Fairholm suffered from symptoms consistent with post-concussion syndrome, including light and noise sensitivity and slowed thought processes. He said that could explain the teen’s problems with focus at school and cyclical depression. “Head trauma can bring symptoms of anxiety, inattention, depression, behavioural issues,” Boucher said.
But he said he did not have reason to believe that Fairholm was suicidal. If there were concerns, he would have reported them, Boucher said.
Boucher had recommended that Fairholm undergo neurofeedback therapy to enhance brain function, a popular therapy used by professional athletes. But Fairholm suffered a rugby-related concussion in May 2018 and the therapy was never administered.
After Boucher’s diagnosis, Fairholm’s family doctor prescribed an antidepressant, Wellbutrin, in April 2018. The doctor, Normand Chagnon, said he never noted outward signs of depression in Fairholm. “Each time I saw Riley, I never saw him depressed,” Chagnon said, adding he was supposed to see Fairholm two months later regarding the medication but never did.
Chagnon became aware of Fairholm’s issues in 2015 when his mother complained of mood swings, depression and problems at school. She tried to have Fairholm seen by a psychiatrist but it was determined he would be assessed by a psychologist, Anna Beth Doyle.
Doyle met with Fairholm a few times in late 2015, but the patient discontinued the visits. When she last saw Fairholm in November 2015, he was doing better, sleeping regularly and had cut out team sports to focus on school. So Doyle said she didn’t push further about continuing the therapy.
“He was a lovely young man, very cooperative, but not of many words,” Doyle said, adding she worked with him on different ways of coping and managing stress when he fell into moderate depressive moments.
“Looking back, perhaps I could have worked more closely with the mother … but he had just turned 15, we were bound by the right of an adolescent to make their own medical decisions,” Doyle said. “It was not our practice to put pressure on the parents.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2022.
— By Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.
The Canadian Press
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All three levels of government, police, organizers granted full standing on inquiry
OTTAWA — The commissioner of the inquiry examining Ottawa’s use of the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protest in February has granted standing to the organizers, police and representatives of all three levels of government.
The decision by Paul Rouleau means those granted standing will be given advance notice on information submitted into evidence before the inquiry, and also gives them certain privileges, such as the opportunity to suggest or cross-examine witnesses.
Those granted full standing in the public inquiry include the federal, Alberta and Saskatchewan governments, the cities of Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., the Ottawa Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and the organizers of the convoy, including Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo and Chris Barber.
Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly will be allowed to produce documents, make submissions on factual, evidentiary and policy-related issues and examine witnesses, and the Manitoba government has been granted permission to provide written submissions.
However, Rouleau denied standing to the Conservative Party of Canada and several participants of the protests, some of whom had their bank accounts frozen under the Act.
Rouleau said it is important that the inquiry remain an independent, non-partisan process, noting there is also the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the Declaration of Emergency reviewing the use of the Act’s powers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Ottawa police say they're ready to shut down Canada Day occupation attempts – CBC.ca
Ottawa city officials say they are prepared for a “unique” Canada Day, with plans to keep anti-government protests from turning into another occupation.
The traditional nationally broadcast shows are returning for the first time since 2019, this time from the plaza in front of the Canadian War Museum because of ongoing construction on Parliament Hill.
Ottawa police say they expect more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day celebrations as groups related to the Freedom Convoy continue to plan demonstrations. Some in those groups have indicated they’d like to protest through July and August.
“This is expected to be a unique Canada Day, with larger crowds and a larger event footprint,” interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell said during a Monday news conference.
“We’ve developed our plans in the shadow of the unlawful protests and Rolling Thunder event. We’ve been speaking with community members and businesses and we’re very aware of the lingering trauma and concern about what they’re hearing after those events.”
Bell said officers will allow legal protests while shutting down illegal activities, including setting up structures or speakers without a permit and the threat of occupation, like on downtown streets in the winter.
He said police have been following online commentary and trying to talk to people who’ve said they’re coming to protest.
“[We’ve] planned, we’re prepared and we have the resources,” Bell replied when answering a question about whether police were ready to step in again like they did in late April, when attempts to gather near the Rideau Centre mall were shut down by officers.
Provincial police and the RCMP have offered help to shut down occupation attempts as long as there’s a risk, he said.
The Ottawa Police Services Board received an update on plans for Canada Day when it met Monday evening.
Bell spoke about the toll recent months have taken on officers, noting the demand is not “sustainable” and describing police as “fatigued” ahead of the long weekend.
“For this event we’ve actually had to cancel days off, we’ve cancelled discretionary time off, called people back from annual leave,” said the chief. “This is an all hands on deck event, but that has a cost on the health and wellbeing of our members.”
At least 5 days of traffic control
Last week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told people thinking of coming to the capital “not to be intimidated by individuals who may be coming to Ottawa to cause trouble.”
He said Monday he wants this to be a safe, festive event for children and families and that people who “come to disrupt” will be dealt with, without a warning.
Bell told the police board that the force has been clear with its expectations for demonstrators, and that harassment won’t be tolerated.
“If there is a hate or bias crime incidents, if there’s intimidation or threats, we will actively investigate those,” he said, adding police know residents have “scars” from the occupation.
“I want to reassure you that those feelings, that trauma that our community has felt is front and centre in all of our planning efforts and will be front and centre in our response efforts.”
Overall, Bell said police are expecting hundreds of thousands of people downtown. For comparison, an estimated 56,000 people went to the shows on Parliament Hill in 2019 and that doesn’t count everyone celebrating nearby.
There will be the traditional Canada Day road closures Friday July 1 and early Saturday, though there are more closures near LeBreton Flats because of that change in show location.
But Ottawa police are establishing another “vehicle exclusion zone” — similar to what was set up in late April for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally — with no street parking at all and no protest vehicles allowed in from 8 a.m. this Wednesday until at least 6 a.m. on Monday, July 4.
Those plans may change if needed, officials said Monday. People are asked to plan ahead, expect delays and check city pages and local media for updates.
How to play online casinos with minimal investment
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