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Families of police shooting victims rally for changes to protocol

Last Updated Jan 21, 2016 at 2:06 pm EST

Michael MacIsaac died after being shot by Durham police on Dec. 2, 2013. FACEBOOK

The family of Michael MacIsaac gathered at a rally Sunday afternoon to mark the one year anniversary of his death as they continue to ask why police had to kill him.

“It’s been really hard,” MacIsaac’s sister Gerarda Vankirk said. “Every day you think Michael’s going to come over today and you realize he’s not.”

MacIssac was shot and killed by Durham police after running naked out of his Ajax home.

His family says they are still fighting for justice months after officers were cleared by the province’s Special Investigation’s Unit in his shooting death. They say they have hired their own investigators to look into the incident.

The rally was held outside the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services on Grosvenor Street, in the College and Bay streets area.


They are also hoping to gather signatures on a petition to develop and implement changes to police protocol related to deadly force and crisis situations.

“We want to raise awareness and demand a change to police protocols,” Vankirk explained.

At the time of the shooting, according to family members, the 47-year-old construction worker was in the midst of a medical episode.

“Michael’s behaviour that day was completely out of character, attributed to his seizures,” his wife Marianne said. “I remember crumbling to the floor crying in disbelief of what had happened.”

The families of others who have been shot and killed by police joined the MacIsaac family at the rally — including the mother of Sammy Yatim. They say they’re demanding accountability and improved training for officers so that no other families have to go through what they have.

“Nothing can relieve me, but you want justice,” Yatim’s mother Sahar Bahati said. “Nobody can feel what we feel. I lost my son and I want him back.”

Yatim was shot and Tasered by police after he was seen with a knife on a Toronto streetcar in July 2013. Videos showed Constable James Forcillo fired at Yatim nine times. Forcillo has since been charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.

Also at the rally was the family of Steve Mesic, who was shot and killed by two Hamilton Police officers outside his home on June 7, 2013 after he allegedly failed to respond to police request to drop a shovel he was holding like a baseball bat.

“After all was said and done they said that Steve had a shovel and they had to shoot him,” Mesic’s wife Sharon Dorr said. “They ended up saying the police felt threatened for their lives and they had no option but to shoot Steve but we don’t believe that.”

Mesic had left the St. Joseph’s mental health ward the morning of his death. The SIU cleared the officers of wrongdoing but recommendations are being looked at on how deaths like Mesic’s can be averted.

Both the Mesic and MacIssac families are calling on the Attorney General to reopen the cases. They’re also calling for the use of lapel cameras for front line officers to increase accountability.