Judge says imitation firearms should be regulated to prevent suicides-by-cop

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WINNIPEG -- An inquest report into the deaths of two so-called suicide-by-cop cases said the province should regulate imitation firearms.

On Nov. 6, 2015, Mark DiCesare was shot and killed by Winnipeg police in a field near Grant Avenue and Kenaston Boulevard. An inquest heard DiCesare pointed what looked like a submachine gun towards officers.

The inquest determined the officers had no other choice.

“I do not believe that there was any way to use a lower level of force,” said Judge Lindy Choy.

The inquest heard testimony DiCesare slowly lowered the firearm, pointed it directly at a group of officers and told them, “Sorry, you guys are going to have to do this,” “I’m going to make you do it,” and “I am not going to kill myself. You guys are going to do it for me.”

The report said the firearm turned out to be replica BB gun.

“While the firearm was only a replica, it strongly resembled an Uzi submachine gun which is a very powerful weapon capable of discharging a high number of rounds. While such weapons are rare in Canada, it remained possible that this was a real firearm and it would not be appropriate for the officers to assume that it was fake,” said Choy.

The province should bring in new rules around imitation weapons, said Choy, which could include BB, air, pellet and paintball guns.

“I recommend the Province of Manitoba consider enacting legislation regulating the acquisition and possession of imitation firearms to reduce the risk of harm to the person possessing the imitation firearm, members of the public and law enforcement officials.”

During the inquest, lawyers for the Winnipeg Police Service called for a possession ban.

“WPS counsel noted that replica weapons are of questionable value to society and suggested that consideration may be given to passing legislation which would prohibit the possession of replica weapons,” said Choy.

The report also released findings on a similar shooting weeks earlier on Highway 59.

On Sept. 20, 2015, police shot and killed Haki Sefa after a pursuit. The inquest heard Sefa was in possession of a pistol and was refusing to put it down.

Choy also concluded there was no “lower level of force” that could have been used by officers.