Licensing 5 guns to Alta. man with mental problems 'lacked common sense': judge

CALGARY -- A fatality inquiry judge is calling for stricter reviews of gun licence applications after a southern Alberta man with a history of mental problems was fatally shot by police.

See Full Article

Corey Lewis, 39, was shot outside his Okotoks home in July 2010 after a standoff with an RCMP tactical team.

He was found holding a dark-coloured umbrella that he had pointed at officers, who thought the object was a weapon.

Provincial court Judge Marlene Graham says she finds it disturbing that Lewis was granted licences for five firearms, including restricted weapons, despite his mental problems, a suicide attempt and a previous emergency protection order.

"I do find that Mr. Lewis's possession of the five long-barreled guns was an integral part of the event leading up to his death," Graham wrote in a report released Monday.

"I find that the screening process used to grant the gun licences to Mr. Lewis lacked diligence and common sense and gives me no assurance that public safety, which is the purpose of the Firearms Act, was being sufficiently emphasized throughout the process."

Graham recommends better screening for firearms licence applicants, including a telephone interview with the applicant's spouse.

She also recommends that police consult with mental-health professionals when dealing with armed people in standoffs to help get them to surrender.

The report says that in the hours before he was shot, Lewis was angry and distraught.

After knocking his wife down and punching his stepson, Lewis's family fled the house, contacted RCMP and told the Mounties that he was in the bedroom with five guns and ammunition.

Some officers entered the house but quickly retreated when Lewis confronted them holding a shotgun.

RCMP called in a tactical team of 20, including a sniper, to surround the house.

After hours of trying to contact him by telephone, Lewis came out of the house in the dark, hunched over with his arms bent. A Mountie shone a light on Lewis and police thought the umbrella he was holding was a weapon. Officers opened fire.

Mounties found a bloodstained document under his body with the words "Take My Life" printed on one side.

The other side said: "I am gone but know this -- RCMP entering a residence with guns drawn is an ACT of WAR!!!!!"

During the inquiry, Barry Benkendorf, lawyer for the RCMP, said Lewis caused officers to shoot him. The lawyer called it a case of "suicide by cop."

Graham ruled the death a homicide.

Widow Naydene Lewis said she is pleased overall with the report and its recommendations. But she wishes RCMP had used more lighting around the house and had contacted her husband's mental-health providers.

"Corey made a choice. Personally I think it was a medically induced choice because he was on several different medications for his mental health," she said in an interview.

"Ultimately the police did their job. So I don't begrudge them."

The report notes that Daniel Magotiaux, Alberta's chief firearms officer, testified that a policy change was made last year to require a medical check of gun licence applicants if there is a mental health concern.

But Graham wrote that the officer also testified that despite the change, the licence for a restricted weapon would still be granted today because Naydene Lewis had signed her husband's application and hadn't filed a complaint.

Graham wrote this policy places undue responsibility on the applicant's spouse.

The chief firearms officer, who is a Mountie, was not immediately available for comment.

Fatality inquiries don't assess blame but make recommendations on how to avoid similar deaths.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Presidential inaugural committee 'blatantly' enriched Trump family: D.C. attorney general

    World News CBC News
    The District of Columbia is suing U.S. President Donald Trump's inaugural committee and two companies that control the Trump International Hotel in the nation's capital, accusing them of throwing parties for the Trump family with non-profit funds, and overpaying for event space at the hotel. Source
  • Survivor recounts confused, chaotic cult rite that killed 7

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, PANAMA -- A survivor of the cult ceremony that killed her daughter and six other people in a remote village in Panama says she was ordered to close her eyes, was beaten and knocked unconscious during the ritual. Source
  • Former soldier, alleged neo-Nazi Patrik Mathews denied bail in U.S.

    Canada News CTV News
    GREENBELT, MD. -- Former Canadian army reservist and accused white supremacist Patrik Mathews was denied bail following an appearance this morning in a U.S. court. Mathews and two other men were arrested last week after the former combat engineer disappeared from his residence in Manitoba amid allegations he was a recruiter for a white-supremacist called The Base. Source
  • Man wins new sex assault trial over poor Swahili-English translation

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A man convicted of sexually assaulting his wife has won a new trial because of problems with the Swahili interpreter he was provided. In overturning his conviction, an Ontario Superior Court justice found the interpreter's incompetence and the trial judge's failure to address the situation breached the man's charter rights. Source
  • Unprovoked shark attacks drop worldwide, but not in the U.S.

    World News CTV News
    GAINESVILLE, FLA. -- Unprovoked shark attacks around the world decreased last year, although they rose in the United States, according to researchers. There were 64 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks worldwide last year, compared to the most recent five-year-average of 82 unprovoked attacks, according to researchers with the International Shark Attack File. Source
  • Worker in Ohio dies after falling into vat of acid, officials investigate

    World News CTV News
    DAYTON, OHIO -- A worker fell into a chemical vat at a business in Ohio and died, authorities said. Dana Swisher, 60, of Union, fell into the vat at Techmetals Inc. on Tuesday, Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Source
  • UN experts: Jeff Bezos phone hack shows link to Saudi prince

    World News CTV News
    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- The phone of Amazon billionaire and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was hacked after receiving a file sent from an account used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, United Nations experts alleged Wednesday. Source
  • Justice minister calls for tougher penalties to address 'crime crisis' in rural Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- Alberta’s Justice Minister is expected to focus in on rural crime in a meeting with his provincial, territorial and federal counterparts in Victoria, B.C. Wednesday. In a letter sent to federal Justice Minister & Attorney General David Lametti in December, Doug Schweitzer wants to see amendments to the criminal code to tackle “skyrocketing” crime rates in many of Alberta’s rural communities. Source
  • Indigenous pipeline supporters slam human-rights advocates over Coastal GasLink stance

    Canada News CBC News
    A collective of First Nations who support the liquefied natural gas industry in British Columbia say human rights advocates failed to do their research when they called for the Coastal GasLink pipeline project to be halted. The First Nations LNG Alliance has issued open letters to the B.C. Source
  • Attacking coyote that was strangled by victim had rabies

    World News CTV News
    CONCORD, N.H. -- A coyote that was strangled by a man after attacking his child had rabies, and it may not be the only one, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Police said they believe the coyote attacked a vehicle on a road in Hampton Falls, bit a 62-year-old woman and her dogs on a porch in Kensington and then attacked a family walking on a trail in Exeter on Monday. Source