The public is getting its first detailed look into the circumstances leading up to a knife-wielding teen's fatal encounter with police officers who shocked him with a Taser.
A judicial inquest into the July 22, 2008 death of Michael Langan got underway in provincial court this morning.
Police subdued Langan, 17, with a Taser in a William Avenue back lane after a short foot pursuit in the afternoon. He became unresponsive and died.
Minutes before the police encounter, Langan was suspected of breaking into a vehicle at a Notre Dame Avenue business just west of where police encountered him.
Hartley Klapman of MWG Apparel said he encountered an "agitated" Langan in the parking lot of his business, where staffers had alerted him his car had been broken into.
Langan was holding a binoculars case taken from the vehicle, jumping around a lot and appeared "spaced out," Klapman testified. The young man — a stranger to him — offered the case back, Klapman said.
"He was gesturing to fight — 'do you want to fight me, or do you want to take this (case) and call it a day?'" Klapman recalled. He took the case back from him.
Klapman said another colleague had followed Langan as he left the parking lot, and he elected to go after him in the damaged car because he was concerned for the employee's safety.
He caught up to him at a nearby motel, he said. Langan had already made it across McPhillips street on foot and turned to make a rude gesture to the two men, Klapman said.
They drove around trying to find him, and caught up with him in a Bannatyne Avenue back lane. Klapman said he tried to use the car to confine Langan in the lane. It was here that Langan was now seen with a knife, which he held up near his head.
"Are you trying to kill me?" Langan asked the men in the car, according to Klapman.
Langan got away. The men saw him next walking on William Avenue. Langan spotted them and darted between two houses to evade them, Klapman said.
At that moment, they were able to flag down a passing police car. Klapman said his colleague had been on the phone with 911 in the time they were following Langan.
The colleague jumped out and directed police where to go. Klapman then parked the car, crossed William Avenue and walked through a yard to get to the back lane where he'd seen Langan go.
Only a minute or two had passed since he'd seen the police, he said. He saw two officers standing over a person who was lying in the lane "in an irregular position," Klapman said.
"I was able to see the (Taser) probes," Klapman said. Police told him to leave the area, so he gave them a business card and left. He was called down to the Public Safety Building later that day and gave a videotaped statement, the inquest heard.
Shown a knife tendered in court as an exhibit in the inquest, Klapman said the one seen in court doesn't appear the same as the one he thought he saw in Langan's hand nearly six years ago.
The inquest continues.