Most Canadians killed in police encounters since 2000 had mental health or substance abuse issues.
New data shows 18 black men and one black boy were among the 52 people killed in encounters with Toronto police officers between 2000-2017.
That outnumbers other racial groups, analysis by CBC News has found.
No government agency or police force maintains national statistics on police-involved fatalities. But CBC tracked more than 460 deaths nationwide through inquests, Special Investigations Unit reports, media accounts and other public records.
In Toronto, the 19 black people killed in encounters with Toronto police account for 36.5 per cent of the fatalities, despite the fact that black people make up just 8.3 per cent of the city’s population during this time, according to the data.
Simone Wellington, whose 15-year-old son Duane Christian was killed by a Toronto police officer in 2006, says the prominence of black victims in this city doesn’t surprise her.
“No one in the black community is surprised by that,” she told CBC Toronto.
“There are things that we have to deal with that other races, ethnicities and cultures don’t.”
Wellington says she’s convinced her son’s race played a role in his death.
Christian was driving a stolen van near Lawrence Avenue and Scarborough Golf Club Road when he was shot by police on June 20, 2006. The officer who fired said that, following a confrontation, Christian accelerated and drove the van at another officer.
“I think that if he wasn’t a little black kid, he wouldn’t have been shot,” Wellington said in an interview.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates all police-involved deaths in the province, concluded the officer’s actions were legally justified because he feared his partner would be struck and killed by the van.
The shooting happened just outside of the family’s home. Wellington heard the gunshots and ran outside.