Ont. woman travels to B.C. for results of police watchdog's investigation into brother's death
KITCHENER -- A woman from Heidelberg is in British Columbia this week as that province's police watchdog releases the results of an investigation into her brother's death.
Barry Shantz was killed in January after officers were called to his home for a mental health call.
Marilyn Farquhar said she has a number of concerns about how police responded that day and doesn't believe her brother had to die.
She described her brother as a passionate and relentless advocate in his life and she said she's committed to making sure his death brings meaningful change.
While in B.C., Farquhar visited a homeless camp in Abbotsford, tracing Shantz's footsteps.
"He's a very big person, or he was a very big person, very passionate about whatever he did," she said.
Shantz was born in Kitchener and moved to B.C. when he was 17.
"He got into dealing with drugs when he was out here and got picked up when he was in the U.S. and sentenced to 15 years in prison," Farquhar said.
Farquhar said her brother became an advocate during his time behind bars -- first for fellow prisoners and then for the homeless population.
She added Shantz was confrontational with bureaucrats as he fought for change, but compassionate towards those he wanted to help.
"I think it's because of his time in prison and the wrongs that he did in life," Farquhar said. "He was so extreme to the other end of the spectrum to make a positive difference."
Shantz also struggled with his mental health.
"The morning of January 13, his partner called for help because he was struggling," Farquhar said.
There was a six-hour standoff with police following the call.
"Given the threat he posed to police, there were clear, reasonable grounds to believe he posed a threat of bodily harm and death when he walked out of the house with that gun," said Ron MacDonald with the Independent Investigations Office.
On Tuesday, the office in B.C. released its report, saying Shantz was armed with a loaded shotgun and "wanted to force a police officer to shoot him" and "lethal force by police was a last resort."
The report also said the officers involved were "legally justified."
"There were attempts made to obtain the assistance of a trained mental health professional," MacDonald said. "Unfortunately in the time that was available, that didn't pan out."
"They were able to bring in 30 officers to the scene, they had helicopters there bringing in officers and resources for that, but they didn't bring in a mental health professional," Farquhar said.
Farquhar said she's committed to advocated for change in policing.
She's travelling through B.C. and meeting with people who knew her brother to help with her grieving process. She's also stitching a series of quilts symbolizing loss and offering a message of hope.
Farquhar said she hopes her brother's life and death can be meaningful.
"Something needs to change, some good has to come out of this so that Barry's death meant something positive," she said.
The police watchdog's report can only determine whether a crime was committed in the shooting, either by an officer's actions or inactions.
Farquhar has also filed a complaint with the RCMP and is hoping a coroner's inquest can lead to recommendations so this kind of situation doesn't happen again.