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Family of Kitchener man fatally shot by police calls for coroner’s inquest

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A Waterloo regional police officer who shot and killed a man in Kitchener, Ont., earlier this year will not be charged, the province’s Special Investigations Unit said in a press release Friday.

Nicholas Nembhard had schizophrenia and under his doctor’s supervision, had recently discontinued his medication.

Nembhard’s family were told that if he exhibited signs of an episode, they should call the doctor’s office or call police to have him taken to hospital.

The family said they called police on advice of Nembhard’s medical team, hoping to get him to the hospital.

Nembhard was holding a machete when police were called to his home on Brybeck Crescent on the evening of February 19. Upon arrival, Nembhard was in the middle of what the SIU describes as a psychotic episode.

The SIU report described a police officer drawing his firearm and pointing it at Nembhard. An officer yelled at him to drop the machete and when he didn’t, he was tased twice. The report went on to say that Nembhard continued to move towards the officers where he was then shot twice in the torso.

The time between Nembhard exiting his apartment building to the time he was shot was less than ten seconds.

As a result, Nembhard fell to the ground in front of a police cruiser where his machete ended up getting wedged in the vehicle’s push bar.

Officers believed the machete was still in his hand and approached carefully. The SIU said about four minutes passed before Nembhard was given medical attention.

He was pronounced dead in hospital.

The report from the SIU determined there are no reasonable grounds to believe an officer committed a criminal offense in connection with Nembhard’s death.

“The complainant was in possession of a machete, charging at WO #2, and in striking distance of the officer at the time of the shots. I am also satisfied that the SO’s resort to gunfire constituted reasonable force,” said SIU Director, Joseph Martino.

The SIU also said there are no grounds for a charge of failure to provide the necessaries of life for the delay in providing medical attention, as officers could not have been certain as to whether Nembhard was still a threat.

In an email statement to CTV News, Waterloo regional police chief Mark Crowell said,“This incident was an immense tragedy for the individual involved, their family, our involved members, and the community at large. It is also a stark reminder of the dangers faced by our members each and every day.”

Family left with many questions

It’s been a long and painful several months for the family as questions remain surrounding Nembhard’s death.

“I am acting like I am okay, I am not. I have to go on living without my brother and it's very hard,” said Nembhard’s sister, Anita Mason. “I know that my brother was wrong to go out with the machete, but he was sick. When someone is sick, they are in a state that they don't know what they are doing, when they don't have a clue what they are doing, and they know to call for help. They didn't call to come and kill him,” said Mason.

Nembhard's family says their only avenue for answers now may be a coroner's inquest which is mandatory for any death that is the result of police use of force.

“I'm really stressed out about it right now, because I don't know what else to do now,” said father, Cliff Eaton Nembhard. “I don't know what to do, man, because I can't believe the police killed Nicholas just like that for no reason.”

No calls have been made yet,and it often takes several years for a coroner’s inquest to actually take place.

“You don't shoot the sick person. So what I was saying is I need justice for that. They can’t kill my son just like that and walk away free…that's not right. We need justice,” Cliff said.

The office of the chief coroner says each inquest is different and it takes time to prepare and schedule so it is difficult to say when the one for Nembhard will happen.

The family hopes it will be soon.

“From yesterday, they told us that police were not gonna charge. They're not going to charge the police guy. They didn't find him guilty. I can never eat, can never sleep, man. It's hard,” said his cousin, Joel Nembhard.

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