A Manitoba judge is calling for the province to regulate imitation guns, in order to reduce the risk of fatal police shootings.
In an inquest report released Wednesday, Judge Lindy Choy recommends that the province consider new legislation on the sale and possession of fake guns to reduce the risk of harm to those who own them, the public and police.
“While a portion of the population may enjoy their use in sport or entertainment, the negative impact imitation weapons have on our communities warrants the need for some regulation,” wrote Choy.
The report does not specify exactly what limits should be placed on imitation guns.
The inquest report explores the separate, alleged “suicide by cop” shooting deaths of Haki Sefa on Sept. 20, 2015 and Mark DiCesare on Nov. 6, 2015. The report was ordered to review police actions and determine if anything could be done to prevent such deaths in the future.
In both incidents, police say they pursued each man before officers fatally shot him, the report notes.
DiCesare was accused of pointing what appeared to be a sub-machine gun at a police officer, then leading police on a high-speed chase while waving the apparent weapon out a window. When police stopped the vehicle, they allege he again pointed the apparent gun at officers, leading shots to be fired.
The report says the weapon was later determined to be a replica BB gun.
“In the DiCesare case, the firearm was a replica and did not pose a real threat of grave harm. There was no way, however, for police to know this and an incorrect assumption that the weapon was fake could mean the death of one or more officers,” wrote Choy.
“The availability of imitation firearms in society makes it more likely that police will be provoked to use lethal force,” she later added.
While imitation firearms can be used for entertainment and sport, Choy argued their potential danger warrants attention.
“When used improperly, imitation firearms cause death,” she wrote.
In Sefa’s case, police allege he pointed a handgun at officers and refused to drop it, which also led officers to shoot.
In relation to both cases, the inquiry doesn’t recommend police act differently in the future.
“I do not think there is anything that could be changed regarding the conduct of the (Winnipeg Police Service) which might serve to prevent a death from occurring in similar circumstances in the future,” writes Choy.
The Winnipeg Sun has requested comment from the provincial government on the call for the new legislation.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019