Foster mother claims Winnipeg police presence only would have escalated situation for dead son

Matthew Fosseneuve, who died following a police interaction in 2018, would have been escalated by the presence of law enforcement says his foster mom, as court heard Fosseneuve called 911 for help in some of his final moments. Morgan Modjeski reports

The 911 call that would eventually conclude in the 2018 death of Matthew Fosseneuve following a police interaction, was a call for help … as the inquest into the deaths of five men who died following police interactions in Winnipeg continues.

On Wednesday, as the inquest into the deaths of five men who passed following police interactions in Winnipeg continues, the court heard a 911 call made by Matthew Fosseneuve from a Logan Avenue payphone where he tells the dispatcher he wants to get into detox.

In the call, you can hear Fosseneuve’s trying to tell the call taker information, about how he is dehydrated, and how he may not be able to attend detox in Winnipeg, but his voice is somewhat mumbled, and as the call taker prepares to transfer him to Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic he gets angry and the call ends. 

It’s this frustration of the call that Fosseneuve’s foster mother, Kathy Friesen, feels was the start of Fosseneuve’s end, as she says the man who she raised as her own, was not looking for trouble, but real help. 

“I think it really was, because he had called us earlier and said he wasn’t feeling good at all,” said Friesen.

Friesen was more than an hour away when the call came in, so she told Fosseneuve — who was dealing with substance use and several mental health conditions — to call 911 for help, however, he’d never get it.

After acting aggressively towards arriving paramedics, police would be called to assist, with Fosseneuve coming into contact with a Cadet cruiser in the meantime, throwing a brick at the vehicle, but missing, then throwing another object, a piece of pipe with metal at the end, before approaching the vehicle and cadets violently.

Then, police would arrive on the scene and engage in a fighting and non-compliant Fosseneuve, deploying a Taser that appeared to be ineffective, as more police arrive before taking him to the ground where he is bound both at the wrists and ankles.

Moments later, he’d become unresponsive and stop breathing with police removing the restraints and helping paramedics on scene performing CPR, but Fosseneuve would die, the official cause of death: a pre-existing heart condition, compounded by Meth toxicity and the physiologic stress of the recent struggle and restraint by police.

“It took everything we have to hold him.”

In court, Const. Ryan Haney, who was acting as a patrol Sgt. at the time of the interaction says Fosseneuve was a danger to himself, and others, during the arrest, saying the only option they had to keep everyone safe was to restrain him. 

The constable testifying even with more than one officer trying to control and soothe him, Fosseneuve was able to buck those on him, saying the man had “completely lost control” and his main priority was the man’s safety, getting the man under control to protect him, Telling court: “Unless we were willing to risk being hurt and have other people being hurt, there were no other options.”

And while paramedics won’t treat a person if it’s not safe, speaking outside of court Friesen feels that had a paramedic, or other medical professional, continued to engage with Fosseneuve instead of police, her foster son may still be alive.

“He had a fear of going to jail. He’s been in jail and that’s all he was thinking of at that point, and it wasn’t helping his situation, he wanted someone medically. Even a medical person that was dressed medically might have helped,” said Friesen. 

Police testimony will continue on Thursday. 

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