‘In anguish:’ Inquiry details Calgary police shooting of man in wheelchair

‘In anguish:’ Inquiry details Calgary police shooting of man in wheelchair

CALGARY — David McQueen’s life was in a downward spiral years before the disabled man started shooting randomly from his house and was killed by a police sniper bullet to the head, says a report into his death.

A fatality inquiry heard that McQueen, 53, began firing a gun from the Calgary home on the afternoon of Jan. 24, 2016. One shot shattered the windshield of a transit bus and sent glass into the driver’s face.

McQueen was forced outside when officers fired tear gas into the home, but he continued shooting before he was shot dead.

“Although his death is tragic given his mental state and personal circumstances, he posed a significant ongoing threat to police and the community, leaving police no option but the use of lethal force,” provincial court Judge Sharon Van de Veen wrote in her report released Wednesday.

McQueen became a quadriplegic in 1994 after he dove into shallow water at a Calgary lake and broke his neck. He used a wheelchair and had the use of his arms, but his hands had deteriorated years before and became claw-like.

The report said his condition worsened after his beloved dog, Bear, died of cancer.

He also went heavily into debt paying for his medical treatment and had ongoing feuds with Alberta Health Services about the care he was receiving. He was cut off from home care because he was belligerent, refused to attend medical appointments and didn’t account for money he had received.

In protest, he once sat in his own feces for an extended period of time.

The judge said other than antidepressants, McQueen received no mental-health care

“It appears Mr. McQueen was left to fend for himself the last week of his life, which he would have been unable to do,” wrote Van de Veen.

“He began believing people were spying on him” and that health officials “had planted microphones or listening devices throughout his home.

“He was extremely isolated.”

The judge said McQueen was clearly in anguish and is likely to have wanted to die at the hands of police.

She made a series of recommendations, including that Alberta Health Services carry out an independent study of glaring gaps in mental-health care. She said the study should include why police are commonly called as first responders when people are in crisis.

The judge also suggested mental-health professionals be made available to individuals like McQueen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

RCMP Inquiry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

Most Read