Coroner's inquest into police shooting of Pierre Coriolan begins

A coroner's inquest into the police killing of a man with mental health issues began on Monday at the Montreal courthouse.

The subject of the inquiry is the death of Pierre Coriolan, a 58-year-old man, shot by police in 2017 inside an apartment complex.

"We want to better understand the cause and the circumstances of the death and how police officers intervene with someone with mental health issues," said Virginie Dufresne Lemire, a lawyer representing Coriolan's family.

Before officers shot Coriolan, a neighbour called 911, warning that Coriolan was in the midst of a mental health crisis. A cellphone video of the incident showed Coriolan holding a knife and a screwdriver in a hallway. Police used a stun gun on him before shooting him and, while he was still moving on the ground, beating him with a baton. He died later that evening.

Quebec's Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI) analyzed the incident and transferred the file to provincial prosecutors. Police were justified in their use of force, those prosecutors said, declining to press charges.

For the inquest, the coroner will hear from the six officers who responded to the 911 call.

The case has drawn the attention of activists against police brutality. Alexandre Popovic, a member of the Coalition against repression and police abuse, said that the police spoke to each other before writing their report describing what happened when Coriolan was killed. "They're not supposed to do that," he said.

The inquest is scheduled to last eight days, but more will likely be added, the coroner said. 

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