TORONTO – An emotionally disturbed man was on a “mission” to kill a police officer, who had no choice other than to shoot him, an inquest heard Thursday.
Testifying at the hearing into three separate police shootings, Const. Ehsan Haghshenas said events unfolded too quickly to try to talk Reyal Jardine-Douglas down.
“Me standing there and saying, ‘Let’s calm down,’ will just get me stabbed,” Haghshenas testified.
“He was going to kill my partner.”
On an afternoon in August 2010, Haghshenas and Const. Kyle Paterson responded separately to a 911 call that an emotionally disturbed man had boarded a city bus.
The officers hemmed the bus in with their cruisers. Paterson got on board, with Haghshenas seconds behind, and were confronted by Jardine-Douglas, who began brandishing a knife.
“I hear Const. Paterson saying, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Drop it!’ Haghshenas said.
The officers backed off the bus and drew their guns.
“A six-foot-two guy, 260 pounds. He’s coming at us with a knife. I would get off the bus.”
Jardine-Douglas, 25, followed them.
Haghshenas said the man gave him a blank look, then turned his attention to Paterson, who kept trying to back up to keep a distance.
“We were both constantly yelling at him to drop the knife but he didn’t comply with any of our demands,” the officer testified.
“It seemed like he had a mission and he wanted to kill Const. Paterson.”
Jardin-Douglas said nothing. He kept moving toward Paterson, who found himself backed up against a hedge.
“He had no other place to go,” Haghshenas said.
Paterson fired three shots, and Jardine-Douglas went down, then tried to get up. Paterson fired a fourth shot.
“He just dropped,” Haghshenas said.
“In my mind, the whole thing took 10 minutes. In reality, it was not even 10 seconds.”
The inquest has previously heard that everything was calm on the bus until Paterson, who is slated to testify next, got on.
In cross-examination, John Weingust, lawyer for the Jardine-Douglas family, asked why the officers didn’t talk quietly to the mentally ill man or try to calm him down as they are trained to do.
That option wasn’t there, Haghshenas testified.
Jardine-Douglas, he said, had every chance to change direction and leave the scene rather than go at the officer.
“We probably would have followed and tried to explore other options,” the officer said.
“He might not have been shot.”
The inquest is also examining the deaths of Sylvia Klibingaitis and Michael Eligon.
All three were holding sharp items and had mental-health issues when Toronto police officers gunned them down.