Canada Police Shoot Homeless Man, YouTube Video of Incident Fuels Protests

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | April 24, 2014 5:46 PM EST

Canadian activists are outraged by a video where police are seen shooting a mentally ill homeless man with rubber bullets.

The incident took place in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Activists now argue that police used unnecessary force to deal with the homeless man. According to police, the man yelled and waved a butcher knife to them and refused to listen to the instructions given to him to get down on the ground, CBC News reported. Abbotsford police spokesperson Constable Ian MacDonald said that police shot the 57-year-old homeless man with non-lethal bullets. He was shot with an Arwen gun which fired rubber bullets and bean bags. According to Mr MacDonald, police usually do that in a situation like that. He said he believed that the police had handled it in "a professional manner." The homeless man in question here, identified as Roy Roberts, has mental health issues.

Activists started campaigning while launching an online petition that accused the police of implementing unnecessary force. The incident drew their attention after a video of the incident was posted on YouTube. The video, which was apparently shot in a mobile, police are heard addressing Roberts as John. Police are seen shouting and asking the man to "stay down on the ground." The man was asked not to get up. He was told that he was "under arrest." While Roberts asked the police why he was under arrest, one of the officers apparently replied that he was under arrest for possessing a weapon.

Roberts, on the other hand, seemed to pay no attention to what he was asked to do by the police. That was when he was shot for the first time with the Arwen gun. While the police made more demands to him, he was shot once again. Roberts did not comply with the police at any point of the incident. He was eventually arrested by officers who moved in. Roberts has now been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon.

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