'He's not forgotten': How a fatal shooting changed the way Montreal police deal with the homeless

Posted
June 13, 2018

Two years before Jimmy Cloutier was fatally shot outside a Montreal homeless shelter, he made a hauntingly accurate prediction to his mother, Carole Fortin: "I'm going to be killed by the police."

At the time, she thought the comment was a symptom of her son's schizophrenia.

"He was so discouraged," Fortin says in French. "And he even told me, 'Mum, hug your son because you won't be able to later.'"

On Jan. 6, 2017, Cloutier's prediction became reality.

The impact of his death has helped transform the relationship between the shelter and the police force. The two organizations have partnered to build closer ties and train officers to deal with the city's homeless residents, some of whom have complex mental health issues. 

Deadly shooting

The sequence of events that led to Cloutier's death began at about 2:25 p.m., when Montreal police received a call about a stabbing near the Old Brewery Mission. Officers spotted the suspect, Cloutier, leaving the shelter quickly with a bag in one hand and a cup in the other.

Security footage shows Cloutier slip past two officers on the sidewalk near the shelter's entrance. The officers pause and then follow him. A third officer standing by a police car on the road is seen closing in on foot.

Cloutier sees the officers approaching, drops his bag, throws down his drink, reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a knife. The size and type of knife are unclear. The officers immediately draw their guns.  

Cloutier then picks up his bag and walks out of frame with the officers following.

Quebec's bureau of independent investigations, which investigates deaths involving police, says Cloutier ignored orders to throw away the knife. He lunged at the officers, the bureau says, and that's when one of them fired his weapon.

Jimmy Cloutier, 38, was pronounced dead in hospital later that day.

Read more: 'He's not forgotten': How a fatal shooting changed the way Montreal police deal with the homeless