The family of a 26-year-old Black man in Brampton, Ont., is reeling after he was fatally shot by police in April, nearly two months before George Floyd‘s death shook the world.
“My son was a fun-loving guy, but he had a mental issue,” Claudius Campbell, D’Andre’s father, told Global News, adding that his son had been in and out of the hospital for years.
“He called Peel police for help, and they came here and crucified him… two minutes in the house and two gunshots to his chest.”
According to D’Andre’s family, the 26-year-old was undergoing a mental health crisis on April 6 and called 911. Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said officers arrived at his home in the Chinguacousy Road and Bovaird Drive West area following reports of a domestic incident.
“They shot him in front of his two sisters, his little brother and another sister,” said Claudius.
The SIU said two officers used Tasers on D’Andre, and an officer subsequently fired gunshots multiple times, striking him. D’Andre died at the scene. A knife was reportedly recovered by investigators.
“To see that, it’s something you can never forget,” said D’Andre’s sister, Shanice Campell, who witnessed the shooting.
“Just to know that’s the way he died, in pain and not in a peaceful way.”
The SIU said the officer involved in the fatal shooting was invited to speak to investigators but, to date, hasn’t done so. The agency also said he hasn’t shared his notes.
According to a statement from the SIU, a regulation in the Police Services Act means subject officers cannot be legally compelled to conduct an interview or submit their notes.
Shanice, who is one of eight siblings, recently reflected on her brother’s interests.
“He liked to stay home. He was a homebody. He wouldn’t go out to parties or anything. He would go to the convenience store and come back home, spend most of his time at home. And he loved music,” she said.
Yvonne Campbell, D’Andre’s mother, said she can hear her son’s voice while looking at pictures of him.
“It’s very hard for me — stressful, heartbroken. Like every day of my life is in misery to know I can’t see my son anymore,” she said.
The family said police had come to the house several times before, so someone would have had an idea of D’Andre’s battle with schizophrenia.
“They need to make a lot of changes. They shouldn’t be sending police with guns for a mental issue. They should be sending properly trained people with an ambulance. They shouldn’t be putting (them) in handcuffs and tucking them in a police car to bring them into hospital,” said Claudius.
“It’s about time they make changes from top to the bottom, and the chief should train his troops properly. Whatever he’s telling his troops, he’s not telling them the right thing because they are not doing the right thing when they go on the street.”
“They murder my son in his house — in his own house, in front of his mother — that’s crazy,” said Yvonne.
D’Andre’s family said they believe his race may have been a factor in his death.
“It (Racism) exists. Look at us… They killed him in his house and they say it doesn’t exist in Canada. We’re proof it exists,” said D’Andre’s aunt, Nicole, who asked that her last name not be used.
There isn’t a lot of data on police use of force on Black Canadians, but an Ontario Human Rights Commission report found that between 2013 and 2017, a Black person in Toronto was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting at the hands of the police.
Global News played a video of D’Andre’s father’s concerns for Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah.
“My heart goes out to them. We didn’t want to be at their doorstep, either… I’ll be very clear: systems have failed,” said Duraiappah.
“There is a reason we are not professionals in mental health. We do our best. We have a lot of collaborative initiatives with mental health crisis workers alongside us.
“Should there be a bolstering of other systems so my officers don’t have to be at the doorstep of individuals in a mental health crisis? One hundred per cent.”
Duraiappah said this is the time for other leaders, including health leaders, to fill the space.
Meanwhile, D’Andre’s family said they want justice and answers. But most of all, they wish for something they can never have — they want D’Andre back.
“When they see us, what do they see? Do we not look like human beings? I just want to ask, what do we look like when they see us? Because at this point, we don’t feel like human beings. Shoot first and ask questions last, and this is the result,” Nicole said.
“They traumatized a generation of his family for the rest of their lives. We are traumatized.”