TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. — Five days after he fell in a hail of police gunfire, the shock of an innocent bystander’s death at the hands of Montreal police remains raw.
Patrick Limoges was remembered in his hometown of Trois-Rivieres, Que., on Sunday at a service where his death was still seen as an incredulous occurrence.
The 36-year-old hospital worker was one of two men to die from the police shooting — authorities were pointing their guns at a homeless man who allegedly threatened them with a knife when Limoges was caught in the crossfire.
Mentally ill Mario Hamel, 40, was laid to rest a day earlier, at a small service in Montreal where mourners expressed similar feelings of disbelief at police actions.
Those who gathered to remember Limoges Sunday shared hugs and shed tears at the funeral which included a memorial slideshow and speeches from his parents, brother and sister.
Flowers surrounded Limoges’ square black and gold urn with a note on one bouquet reading, “You who were so talented and so generous, paid with your life for the folly of men.”
Some fought to control their emotions but reserved judgment on the circumstances of Limoges’ death.
Suzanne Champagne, a friend of Limoges’ mother, said the shooting was “like a bad dream.”
“Considering the circumstances, nobody is guilty” she told reporters gathered under grey skies. “But he’s gone.”
Others were more vocal about their opinions.
“I’m very unhappy with the police brutality and the police system,” said Martin Massicotte. “They killed my cousin.”
Stephane Abran, another cousin, said it was a very hard time for the family.
“It’s very tough for them,” he said. “But they are just thinking more philosophical about it, like it’s really bad luck for him and it’s not supposed to happen like that.”
Abran, who described Limoges as someone he always enjoyed being around, appeared to have mixed feelings over the police actions himself.
“I cannot say if I’m angry or not, I’m just like, let’s just say, I’m disappointed.”
There were also those who said they were waiting for the findings of a probe into the incident by Quebec provincial police.
“It’s a horrible accident, but I want to see the results of the investigation,” said Jacqueline Alarie-Limoges, a relative, as she fought back tears. “But I don’t put the blame on anyone. I think ( the police) did their work the best they knew how.”
Meanwhile, a man who said he was Patrick Limoges’ boss, but who asked not to be identified, questioned the actions of officers.
In an open letter, he wrote that security guards at his hospital regularly deal with agitated people and manage to control them without guns.
The incident has raised questions about why officers couldn’t have used other means, such as stun guns, to end the apparent confrontation with Hamel.
A friend who said he knew Hamel for two years had described him as a person with “very light” psychological troubles, which appeared to be under control when he took medication.
Another friend who was at the Hamel’s Saturday memorial told a local TV station his death was “disgusting” particularly because it was a case of one man with a knife against four officers with guns.
The Quebec government says 72 people in the province have been killed or seriously injured by a bullet during police operations since 1999.