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Arresting Mental Ill Suspects

Posted Nov 18 2008 5:58am

When police went to arrest Christopher Paul Klim at his Vernon, British Columbia apartment, they found him holding a knife in his hand. Klim, a 24-year diagnosed schizophrenic, was shot with a Taser when he refused to put down the knife. After the Taser failed to subdue him, police then shot Klim twice as he lunged towards them with the knife.  He died of his injuries later that day in Vernon's Jubilee Hospital.

Police testifying at an inquest into the December 27, 2007 shooting reported that they had been called to Klim's apartment after being told that he was cutting himself and was suicidal. Klim had a history of noncompliance with psychiatric medication and previous suicide attempts. After obtaining a mental health warrant, police entered the apartment with the help of fellow tenants. They described Klim as being highly agitated and refusing to go to hospital.

The inquest concluded Friday with the coroner's jury making seven recommendations to prevent further arrest-related deaths for psychiatric patients. These recommendations include the development of a provincial policy on the apprehension of mental patients, full disclosure of mental health history to arresting officers (including likely response to authority), and improved police training in managing mental patients.

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