The fiancee of a man shot and killed by a Regina police officer during an alleged hostage situation has taken to social media to express her belief that he did not have to die.
Although the Regina Police Service has not released the man’s name, family on social media have identified the 41-year-old as Geoff Morris. In a Facebook post published on the night of May 4, the same day Morris was killed, a woman identifying herself as Morris’ fiancee wrote extensively about the moments leading up his death.
“Honestly it wasn’t necessary for them to kill him, they could’ve just tased him,” wrote Jasmine Brass, who said she was present when Morris was killed.
According to police, officers responded just after 5:30 a.m. Saturday to an apartment in the 1900 block of Halifax Street after receiving reports of a disturbance at the location. Police arrived on scene just after 5:40 a.m. Morris was shot later that morning.
Speaking at an unrelated news conference, Regina police Chief Evan Bray briefly addressed reporters questions about the controversy now swirling on social media.
“I am aware of lots of social media dialogue. I’m aware of where the investigation is at but really at this point I’m not in a position where I can offer any further comment,” he said.
Questioned further, Bray said, “I gave a fairly lengthly press conference the other day on the issue. There’s lots that could be said, but I want the process to unfold naturally and so today I’m not going to focus on that and I respectfully ask you to respect that.”
At a news conference Saturday, police said officers found an adult man holding a woman hostage, and that the man was armed with a knife.
Brass described Morris as someone who was struggling with mental health issues.
“I’m so broken right now, but deep deep down I’m at peace for him to be free of his lifetime of abuse and depression,” wrote Brass.
At Saturday’s news conference, Chief Evan Bray said officers were on scene for an hour trying to de-escalate the situation. A request was made for more resources, including crisis negotiators, SWAT and EMS, and members of these groups were on scene when the gun was fired.
“Ultimately an officer made a decision to discharge a firearm as an acceptable level of force to stop a situation because of a fear he had that someone else could be seriously injured,” said Bray, adding that he could not clarify whether the officer feared for the safety of another officer or a civilian.
In her post, Brass wrote that she and her sister were trying to calm Morris early Saturday morning.
She said it felt like “hours” before a negotiator showed up but believes Morris became more agitated afterward.
Over the next couple of days, Bray said police will be collecting evidence and the officer involved in the incident will be removed from active duty for a short time to ensure everything needed for the investigation is gathered and to make sure the officer’s mental and physical health are looked after.
The officer will return to active duty while the rest of the investigation is carried out.
“Even though we train for it, even though it’s something that officers right from recruit training step out on the street and they understand they might be confronted with it, this is not an easy day for officers,” said Bray.
The investigation is ongoing in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Coroners. Because it was an officer-involved shooting, there will also be an oversight process by the Ministry of Justice.
In 50 years, Regina police officers have been involved in six previous shootings that resulted in a death: a 16-year-old Regina boy in 1998 who was armed with a hunting knife; a 20-year-old woman armed with a pistol in 1996; a 26-year-old man armed with a knife during a domestic dispute in 1993; a 17-year-old boy who shot himself with a high-powered rifle after he was shot in the hand by a police in 1989; a 38-year-old man who had written a suicide note before confronting police in 1984; and a 19-year-old armed robbery suspect in 1969 that the officer believed was armed.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019