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

  • Explosions reported at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured. There were no immediate details of what happened during the concert by the American singer, but police advised the public to avoid the area around the Manchester Arena. Source
  • First World War replica bi-plane squadron to fly coast-to-coast

    Canada News CTV News
    Allan Snowie admits his goggles did “mist up” on his first pass over the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in a First World War replica bi-plane ahead of the recent 100th anniversary of the pivotal battle. Source
  • 'Number of confirmed fatalities' at Ariana Grande concert in U.K., say police

    World News CBC News
    Police say there have been a "number of confirmed fatalities" and injuries after an explosion at the Manchester Arena in northern England, where U.S. pop star Ariana Grande was giving a concert. Police statement on incident at Manchester Arena pic.twitter.com/gaKASukx9a— @gmpolice Source
  • 'Confirmed fatalities' after serious incident at Ariana Grande show in U.K.

    World News CTV News
    Police in Manchester, U.K., say there are “a number of confirmed fatalities” after reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena, where American singer Ariana Grande performed Monday night. No details were immediately available, but people in the area have reported hearing loud bangs that sounded like explosions. Source
  • 8-year-old boy who died in Rushing River was from Winnipeg

    Canada News CBC News
    An eight-year-old boy who died while vacationing with his family in Rushing River Provincial Park over the holiday weekend was from Winnipeg. Ontario Provincial Police were called to the park, about 75 kilometres east of the Manitoba border, after the boy was reported missing around 9:45 p.m. Source
  • Dad of Times Square crash victim leaves note at her memorial

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The father of a Michigan tourist killed by an out-of-control driver in Times Square left a note at a memorial for his daughter, thanking New Yorkers for their support and saying her loss was a hole in his heart "that can never be filled. Source
  • Female inmate at Ontario jail dies after being found unresponsive in cell

    Canada News CBC News
    A woman who was found unresponsive in her cell at the South West Detention Centre just outside Windsor, Ont., has died. The woman was found by correctional staff who performed first aid until an ambulance arrived, according to Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services spokesperson Andrew Morrison. Source
  • Man set afire during Venezuela protest as death toll rises

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is accusing protesters of setting fire to a government supporter, saying what he calls "Nazi-fascist" elements are taking root inside the opposition's ranks and contributing to a dangerous spiral of violence in the two-month anti-government protest movement. Source
  • Hugo Chavez's childhood home burned by protesters: lawmaker

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Protesters set late President Hugo Chavez's childhood home in western Venezuela on fire Monday afternoon, an opposition lawmaker said, as protests against the nation's socialist government grew increasingly hostile. Demonstrators lit the house in the city of Barinas where Chavez spent his early years aflame along with several government buildings, including the regional office of the National Electoral Council, said Pedro Luis Castillo, a legislator who represents the…
  • Over 31 million people internally displaced in 2016: report

    World News CTV News
    Internally displaced civilians, who fled their homes during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State group, receive humanitarian aids at Amariyah Fallujah, Iraq, Saturday, June 25, 2016. (AP / Khalid Mohammed) Source