Shot and killed by police, Matthew Mahoney 'slipped through the cracks,' brother tells inquest

·2 min read
Michael Mahoney, left, and Matthew Mahoney are pictured with their mother on the last Christmas they spent together before Matthew's death in Windsor, Ont. (Mahoney Family - image credit)
Michael Mahoney, left, and Matthew Mahoney are pictured with their mother on the last Christmas they spent together before Matthew's death in Windsor, Ont. (Mahoney Family - image credit)

In the months and years prior to Matthew Mahoney being shot and killed by police in Windsor, Ont., his brother Michael recalls him saying he was being ignored by the system tasked with helping his mental illness.

Monday was the first day of a coroner's inquest examining Mahoney's death. It also gives the jury of five an opportunity to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

Two Windsor police officers shot and killed Mahoney in a downtown Windsor parking lot on March 21, 2018, while he was holding a butcher block full of knives.

Michael Mahoney began testifying by talking about the 33 years of his brother's life, not the "last terrifying seconds" of it. He remembers his brother as an incredibly strong, intelligent person "filled with generosity."

"Without Matthew, there will never be a normal for my family again," Michael said.

Mahoney was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and had instances where he was violent in the past. The family knew Mahoney stopped taking his medication for over a year. Michael recalls struggling with different aspects of the system, trying to force his brother back on his meds.

"It just seems absolutely crazy to wait until he hurts someone to get him back on medication that could save his life," Michael testified.

Submitted by Michael Mahoney
Submitted by Michael Mahoney

Speaking on behalf of the Mahoney family, Michael said they would like to see proper mental health care funding, automatic followup care for people trying to live with mental illness like his brother, crisis teams and a "score card" to identify under-resourced mental health units "so patients don't suffer."

"We were told repeatedly … that they [health-care workers] are so overworked and so understaffed that it is so easy with extreme cases, especially complicated cases like Matthew's, to slip through the cracks," Michael testified.

He doesn't blame the two Windsor police officers who shot him, Michael testified, adding their actions were part of a "sick system." One of the offers also suffered a stab wound as a result of Mahoney.

Michael is pushing for more de-escalation training for police across Canada.

The province's Special Investigation Unit (SIU) also cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

Dan Taekema/CBC
Dan Taekema/CBC

The virtual inquest is expected to last 10 days and hear from 20 witnesses, including the two officers who shot Matthew, medical professionals who treated him and other experts.

The inquest comes a month after Windsor police shot another man in the area of Wyandotte Street and Ouellette Avenue.

Police responded to a call on Aug. 15 involving a weapon. The SIU said in a statement that a 70-year-old man was "wielding a machete and threatening people." After an interaction with officers on the scene, one officer used a Taser on the man and another fired a gunshot at him.