In the early hours of July 5, Andrew Loku was shot and killed by Toronto Police in his apartment building in the city's northwest.
According to Hicks, she managed to get Loku out of the apartment, which is when the police arrived and told him to drop the hammer. A moment later, she said, he was shot.
"I'm not talking five minutes, or two minutes, I'm talking seconds here. We didn't get a word in, me or Andrew," Hicks told CBC.
He was pronounced dead at 12:26 a.m.
Loku had been living in an apartment building with units leased by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to provide affordable housing for those with mental illnesses. A statement from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations said Loku had been suffering from mental health issues.
The case is now in the hands of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that takes over when police officers are involved in cases of death or serious injury. The SIU does not comment on ongoing cases.
Loku is not the first person of colour reportedly struggling with mental health issues to be killed by Toronto Police. A coalition of organizations wants the police to start tackling the issue head on.
That report, while thorough, failed to examine how race plays a role in these cases, said Roger Love, counsel with the African Canadian Legal Clinic.
"Our position was the report was extensive but colourblind and Toronto Police must make immediate action to apply a racial lens," he told BuzzFeed Canada. In his opinion, the service is slow to move on race issues unless there's significant community pressure.
The coalition has prepared five recommendations to get that work started.
- A racial analysis of the 2013 report.
- An inquiry into the "disproportionate force used against African-Canadians with mental health issues."
- A review of how officers involved in these cases are disciplined.
- Publicly-released data from the SIU regarding race and mental health.
They're also calling on police to wear body cameras to ensure their side is heard.
"The effect of being unheard is most heavily felt by those who are racialized or experience mental health issues," said Love.
Despite a series of high-profile cases of young black men killed by police in the U.S., Love said the reaction when similar incidents happen in Canada has been disappointingly quiet.
The CHMA confirmed they are in contact with Loku's family and have started a fund to pay for his funeral.
Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.
Contact Lauren Strapagiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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