The Chad Murphy Case: ‘I Called Police to Help Him, Not to Kill Him’


On Oct. 2, 2016, Chad Murphy was in the middle of moving into a new condo with his father, an aging widower. The idea was for Murphy to move in with him and help out.

Murphy’s sisters and other family members spent the Sunday going back and forth from the condo in Île-Perrot, packing and unpacking.

By the time Murphy arrived later in the afternoon, a sibling argument that had been brewing all day boiled over.

Stressed by the move and already struggling with depression, Murphy became agitated. He started yelling, demanding to speak with his father. His sister Sharon asked him to go home and calm down. He could speak with their father later on, she told him.

But Murphy, 45, erupted instead. He got in his car, drove it into his other sister’s car, backed up and did it again. Then he sped off, texting Sharon soon after: “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

During the next couple of hours, the text messages kept escalating. Unsure of what to do — or where Murphy might be heading — the family decided to call the police. Sharon told them what had happened and gave them his cellphone number to track him down.

“Please,” Sharon’s daughter, Melissa Bergeron, says she asked them, “do not hurt him.”

By 8:30 pm., Sûreté du Québec officers had traced Murphy’s phone to his apartment on 2nd Ave., making their way there and approaching his front door.

What happened next is unclear because it is under investigation.

Murphy’s family says they were told he was sitting on his living room floor when officers arrived. Already mostly packed up for the move, he didn’t have a couch. Netflix was playing on the television. He had earphones in.

Police say Murphy charged toward the officers with a knife. He was shot at least twice and died as a result.

Nearly a year later, his family still has no answers about that night. Doubts over whether they should have called police in the first place linger, only worsened by the number of fatal police interventions in Quebec since Murphy’s death.

But more than answers, they insist, what they really want is change.

Police officers knew they were searching for a man in mental distress that night, they say, and his death should have been preventable — either through better training, more accountability or a shift in how police respond to similar calls.

“I don’t know if my brother would have killed himself. I can’t guess or assume,” Sharon, 49, recently said from her home in Île-Perrot. “But I called the police to help him, not to kill him.”

Chad Murphy had struggled with drug addiction and depression in the past, but in recent years, he seemed to be in a better place. Everyone around him had noticed it.

He had landed a job as a forklift driver a few years prior and had worked his way up the company ranks. Proud of himself, he would show his business cards off to family. He finally had his teeth fixed and started putting weight on. He was even looking to join a gym, Sharon said.

A lingering house arrest sentence from a theft conviction was coming to an end. Over cigarettes on the porch or commutes to work, he’d talk with Sharon about how he felt he was getting on track and couldn’t wait to be free again.

“He was going up and up,” Sharon said, wiping tears from her eyes. “He was almost finished and then he would have been free as a bird again. And that’s what he was building up to. He wanted a normal life now.”

But then there was a mixup at work; something about sending a trailer to the wrong place or loading the wrong piece onto a truck. Sharon was later told it wasn’t that big of a deal. But it weighed on Murphy. Around the same time, a girlfriend left him. In his mind, Sharon said, he felt like things were falling apart.

That day last October, he told her he didn’t have anything left to live for.

After calling the police, Sharon sat in a patrol car outside her sister’s house, where the family had gathered. Sharon could hear officers talking through their radios but couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. They told her they had managed to track Murphy’s phone to Lachine, then closer to home. Something didn’t feel right.

Everyone was on edge. Murphy’s niece, Bergeron, decided to drive over to his apartment, “because I couldn’t sleep not knowing where he was.”

Turning onto his street — 2nd Ave. near Grand Blvd. in Île-Perrot — she hoped to find her uncle sleeping or watching a movie. Instead, she saw police cruisers, fire trucks and emergency vehicles crowded outside his apartment.

Bergeron parked her car in the first driveway she could find and ran under the police tape cordoning off the scene. She can’t remember exactly who stopped her — it was dark out and everything happened in a blur — but someone wearing a uniform did.

“I need to get to the house, my uncle’s in there,” she remembers telling them. She was asked his name, and then there was a pause.

“He told me, ‘your uncle was shot and brought to the hospital’,” Bergeron said.

Having read enough about police shootings, she said, she knew in that moment whatever happened didn’t end well. She thought back to what she had told police earlier: “Bring him to the Douglas (Mental Health University Institute) if needed, put him in jail if it’s necessary. We just want him safe.”

She rushed to the hospital, where a nurse filled the family in on the situation. Bergeron remembers her being vague but talking about Murphy in the past tense.

“So when she left the room we knew he was gone,” Bergeron said. “We just waited for the doctor to confirm it.”

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