You have to go back 11 years to find another case in which someone died, as Abdirahman Abdi did, after being restrained by Ottawa police.
That’s what happened to Stephane Michaud in 2005. And while the circumstances of Adbi and Michaud’s deaths are not the same, they are similar in that both died after being restrained by police.
Michaud, a 43-year-old Montrealer, arrived at the Ottawa airport on a one-way ticket from Halifax on the morning of June 5, 2005.
What happened next was the subject of a public inquest by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and an SIU investigation.
About an hour after he arrived at the airport, Michaud – who held two university degrees, and who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia five years earlier – began acting strangely, banging his head on the floor and yelling that he wanted to die.
An off-duty RCMP officer and airport staff tried to calm down Michaud, and three men eventually restrained him until Ottawa police arrived.
But they struggled to restrain Michaud. Eventually, he was handcuffed and placed on a stretcher in “prone” position – face down, which his chest to the ground.
He was injected with a sedative and became calm – until a bystander realized his face was turning blue. Paramedics and officers tried to resuscitate Michaud, but he was pronounced dead in the emergency room after arriving at the Ottawa Hospital.
The investigation into Michaud’s death started in June 2005 and ended two years later when the results of a 12-day government inquest were made public. Investigators talked to family and eyewitnesses and reviewed surveillance tape to piece together what happened.
Both paramedics and police officers on scene were cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
Michaud’s autopsy characterized his death as an accident, but blamed the “prone position” he was placed in for cutting off his air supply.
The inquest made 11 recommendations and criticized first responder training and response time. During the inquest, Alain Michaud, a medical doctor, linked his brother’s death to similar incidents across the country where a patient being arrested has gone into “excited delirium” and eventually died after being forced into the prone position.
“I realized there were a lot of people who died in the same way as my brother,” he told the Ottawa Citizen in 2006.
In the end, the inquest’s recommendations resulted in 38 more paramedics being hired to improve response times, extra training to deal with psychiatric patients and a ban on using the prone position in Ottawa Paramedic Service policies.
The family didn’t sue after his death, but Michaud’s brother Gilles Michaud told the newspaper that he hoped the results of the inquest would prevent future deaths.