Jury deliberations are underway at the coroner’s inquest examining the death of Steve Mesic.
One major question facing jurors is how to classify the death of the 45 year old Hamilton man, who was armed with a garden shovel when he was shot six times in the torso by two police officers last June.
Mesic had a history of mental illness and had walked away from voluntary care at St. Joseph’s Hospital, then wandered into traffic on both the Jolley Cut and the LINC before he died in the confrontation with police outside of his mountain townhouse.
Jurors can classify his death as a homicide — defined as the action of one human being killing another, or as a suicide — an intentional act that can be planned or implusive. The jury’s third option is undetermined if they find that the evidence points evenly between those two alternatives.
Police lawyers argue that Mesic was on a “suicide mission”, while the lawyer representing his family wants a finding of homicide arguing that the officers had “tunnel vision” and failed to properly apply their specialized training.
The other big task for inquest jurors is to make recommendations that would prevent another death from occuring under similar circumstances.
They’ve already been presented with three “joint recommendations”, should they choose to accept them, from the various parties involved in the case.
The first two involve St. Joseph’s Hospital, which would be asked to review its patient observation process and its policy for management of off-ward passes within the mental health and addictions program.
The third joint recommendation urges the Hamilton Police Service to include consumers and survivors of mental health services within annual “emotionally disturbed persons” training.
The Mesic family also wants police to consider lapel cameras, however the service opposes that saying they have a “narrow perpective” and couldn’t possibly have prevented his death or others.