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Kitchener, Ont. man was having mental health crisis when he was killed by police, says family

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The family of a 31-year-old man who was fatally shot by police on Monday says he was having a mental health crisis when he was killed.

The province’s police watchdog is now investigating the incident, which happened on Brybeck Crescent near Karn Street in Kitchener. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), police responded to a home in the area around 9 p.m. for a disturbance call.

Andre Nembhard says his brother, who had schizophrenia, was off his medication and had a machete.

“We tried to seek some help from the police so we could bring him to the hospital to get him some help, get him on his medication again,” Nembhard said.

Nembhard claims police told him officers would come to the family’s home to speak with them. They were sitting down waiting for them to arrive when they heard gunshots outside.

“When I came out here – that’s my brother, under the police car suffering from a gunshot wound,” he said.

When the family tried to get closer, Nembhard says officers pushed them back.

“They were pointing the gun at us, telling us to ‘move, move, get away from the scene,” he said.

Andre Nembhard says the family called police to bring his brother to the hospital on Monday. “I was trying to seek some help and this is the help that we get. They came here, they killed him," Nembhard said. (Chris Thomson/CTV Kitchener)

“I didn’t want nothing to happen to my brother. He’s a good kid, he’s a hard working guy, he’s been doing a painting job for years now, trying to make life better for himself. He did nobody no harm yesterday. He was just out of his mind,” Nembhard continued.

“I was trying to seek some help and this the help that we get. They came here, they killed him – innocent guy, for nothing.”

Nembhard says two years ago, police were called for a similar incident involving his brother. Officers arrived, Tasered him, then brought him to hospital. Nembhard doesn’t understand why things were different this time.

“Even when he’s sick, he’s not trying to kill nobody. He’s just scared,” he said.

Nembhard says before their father left last for a trip to Jamaica last week, he asked Nembhard to look after his brother.

“My dad told me ‘keep him safe until I come back,’” he said. “I was trying so hard to keep that guy safe.”

Dorian Birtle lives nearby and witnessed the aftermath of the shooting.

She says she was watching TV in her room when she heard two gunshots, looked out her window and saw a man on the ground.

“I saw more police come and I saw them start doing CPR on the guy as well... he just wasn’t moving and I got very nervous,” she said, adding she could see police holding people back with a riot shield.

Similar shooting on same street

Monday’s shooting bears similarities to another incident that took place on the same street nine years ago.

In April 2015, Beau Baker, 20, was fatally shot by a Waterloo regional police officer outside his Brybeck Crescent apartment.

Baker was armed with a knife, and at an inquest last year, the officer who shot him testified he was worried Baker would hurt himself or others.

The inquest jury ultimately ruled Baker’s death a suicide and made 24 recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.

SIU investigation

According to the SIU, when officers arrived at the Brybeck Street residence on Monday night, they encountered a man in the street with an edged weapon.

Waterloo regional police at the scene of a police-involved shooting in Kitchener on Feb. 19, 2024. (Hayden Phillips/CTV Kitchener)

The SIU says there was an interaction and one of the officers fired their gun.

“It was one officer who discharged his firearm and as a result, the man was struck,” SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said.

The SIU says the man was transported to hospital where he died from his injuries.

“At this time, we have three investigators and three forensic investigators assigned to the case. Five witness officers and one subject officer have been designated and there will be a post-mortem tomorrow morning,” Hudon said.

The SIU says investigators will now look for possible evidence like clothing, the gun used, and any video that was retrieved. The investigation is still in its early stages and could take weeks to paint a full picture of what happened.

“In a case like a death case where there's a post mortem and we have to send evidence out for review, in cases like that, it could take a little bit longer,” Hudon said.

Anyone with information about the investigation, including videos or photos, is asked to contact the lead investigator online or at 1-800-787-8529.

Waterloo regional police says they cannot comment on the case as it's now in the hands of the SIU.

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