Coroner's inquest to probe fatal shooting at OPP detachment

A coroner's inquest will be held into the death of a man who died after being shot outside an eastern Ontario OPP detachment more than a year ago.

Babak Saidi was killed on Dec. 23, 2017 after reporting to the Morrisburg OPP detachment for his weekly, mandatory check-in — a condition of a previous assault conviction.

'It's a sense of relief that my brother's death is not a waste of a life.' - Elly Saidi

Saidi's sister, Elly Saidi, who's been calling for an inquest, said her family is pleased her brother's death will be further investigated, and that the inquest could yield recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents.

"It brought tears to my eyes," she said. "It's a sense of relief that my brother's death is not a waste of a life."

Saidi said the inquest could help police officers handle situations involving people like her brother, who grappled with schizophrenia and social paranoia.

"It's so easy for someone who's sort of struggling with severe mental health issues for things to escalate," she said.

"I'm hoping that from this inquest we can come to a better understanding of how to deescalate an issue ... [and] what kind of police procedures and processes can be put in place that gives them better tools to deal with people with mental health illness."

No charges against officer

In February, Ontario's police watchdog concluded there were no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against the police officer who shot and killed Babak Saidi during a scuffle outside the Morrisburg detachment.

The supervising coroner for eastern Ontario, Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion, said she cannot comment directly about the inquest because it has not been formally announced.

"Coroners investigations are confidential until they go to inquest," she said. "So during the time of preparation of an investigation, and as we learn more and more about a case, we communicate with families because that's part of our role. But making a public announcement or explaining the details of any specific investigation, we really can't do that."

Submitted by Elly Saidi

McNaughton-Filion said that prepping for the inquest could take months or more.

"It can take more than a year to prepare for an inquest, depending on the complexity," she said. 

"You want to be thorough. You want to do it right and you want to make sure at the end, if there are recommendations that come out, they've been based on the evidence that's been presented. So we need to make sure that we have all the evidence that is required."

"Nothing will bring my brother back," Elly Saidi said. "But it is my hope, and our wish, that it will be a learning experience for everyone involved."