Before arriving in Lethbridge less than a year ago, Deu Raj Puri grew up in refugee camps. In Lethbridge he worked on a canola farm and attended English as a second language courses. Abi Adhikari, a fellow Bhutanese immigrant who knew him said that Puri had developed depression and alcoholism as a result of his traumatic life experiences.
On the night of Puri’s death, his family called the police to prevent him from committing suicide. Friends say Puri had cut himself with a knife and was threatening to kill himself. When the police arrived, Puri was shot by two officers. A knife was found at the scene, but the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has still not identified whether or not Puri was holding the knife when he was killed.
The President of the Canadian Bhutanese Society, Hemlal Timsina, told the Calgary Herald that he is concerned about how this will affect future interactions with the police.
“They are angry, unhappy, sad. One thing is for sure, if anything happens in the house, fights or anything happens, they say they are not going to call the police because they are scared now.”
Timsina also had a number of questions for the police including:
[W]hy the shots were fired when Puri was hurting himself, why the victim was not offered treatment after previous similar incidents and arrests, what efforts were made to bridge the communication gap and what steps police will take to reassure members of the Bhutanese community.