Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Kayshawn Olivier, son of Jean-René Junior Olivier who was shot dead by police officers, pauses next to the mother of the victim, Marie-Mireille Bence, during a news conference in Repentigny, Que.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The family of a Black man shot and killed by police in a Montreal suburb on Sunday wants to know why officers opened fire.

Jean René Junior Olivier’s family told reporters gathered outside his mother’s home on Monday they had called police because they were concerned for his well-being and wanted him to get help. Instead, they said, he received three bullets in the stomach just a few houses over from his mother’s home on a leafy residential street in Repentigny, Que., just north of Montreal.

“I’m very angry about what happened, I called for help and they killed my son,” said Marie-Mireille Bence, the victim’s mother.

Story continues below advertisement

“A 37-year-old man, they gunned him down, he was not dangerous,” she added. “He didn’t have a gun on him, he just had a knife on him.”

The family says Mr. Olivier had discarded the knife on the ground before police shot him. If police had to shoot, they say, officers should have aimed for another part of his body.

“He threw the knife on the ground and that’s when they shot him, they shot him three times,” Ms. Bence said. “I called for help and I lost my son, I find it absurd because there were other ways of dealing with this, of bringing him under control.”

The death has Mr. Olivier’s mother thinking twice about calling police. “If tomorrow I have another problem, will I call 911? Not at all, because I do not have confidence in the police,” Ms. Bence said.

Quebec’s police watchdog began investigating the death on Sunday. It said in a statement that officers responded to a 911 call just after 7:30 a.m. that morning regarding an allegedly confused and unstable man armed with a knife.

They said police found the man outside and tried to speak to him but he fled on foot and allegedly became threatening toward officers. The watchdog said police used pepper spray to try and subdue the man but failed and then shot him multiple times.

Loved ones of a Black man shot and killed by police in Quebec want to know why he died. The family of Jean Rene Junior Olivier says they called police to help him because he was in a troubled state but didn’t expect it would end with bullets. The Canadian Press

Montreal-based civil rights group Center for Research-Action on Race Relations is assisting the family. Executive director Fo Niemi told reporters the Repentigny police force has been criticized for the way it has treated Black residents. City police have been hit with at least four complaints for racial profiling before the province’s human rights commission and Mr. Niemi said several other complaints are forthcoming.

Story continues below advertisement

Dolmine Laguerre, Olivier’s cousin, said she’s outraged. The mother of three, also a Repentigny resident, said she feels unsafe in the community. During the news conference, she showed the small kitchen knife Mr. Olivier allegedly had in his possession and questioned why six officers and three bullets were necessary to bring Mr. Olivier under control.

“The family wants answers, the family wants justice and the family wants to know what happened,” Ms. Laguerre said. “If you come to Repentigny, do you feel that we’re safe? Do you feel that we have to hide? Our skin colour speaks for us.”

Repentigny police held a news conference Monday and said Mr. Olivier’s death was the first police-involved shooting in the force’s history.

“We understand this event has shaken our community – our police officers as well as the family of the victim to whom we offer our sincere and profound condolences,” police Chief Helen Dion told reporters.

Chief Dion declined to go into specifics but said “despite all the training or experience a police officer has, believe me, no one gets up in the morning wanting to discharge a firearm.” She said the watchdog investigation and a coroner’s probe will shed light on the incident, adding that she and the Mayor will meet with Ms. Bence as soon as possible.

Kayshawn Olivier, one of the victim’s sons, said he has only one question for authorities.

Story continues below advertisement

“All we want is answers,” he said. “The question is why three bullets?”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies