The family of a Żabbar man who died after being sedated by a doctor and stunned by a police stun gun have spoken out about their anger over how the situation was handled.
Ronnie Ghiller, 48 years old, suffered a sudden heart seizure after an hours-long standoff with police that saw several RIU officers and a doctor called in to calm the panicked man.
Ghiller, who was having serious issues lately and was becoming “obsessed” with the coronavirus according to his family, apparently began to act erratically when he saw a long queue of people forming outside a nearby shop that recently reopened.
When the queue began to approach the pavement in front of his home, Ghiller began throwing things at the people.
Ghiller’s sister-in-law, Sandra, said a previous incident involving a car bomb had left him traumatised and easily panicked.
Now, the family of Ghiller have been left angry and confused as to how Ronnie ended up dead after calling police repeatedly for help. They’re asking why a doctor was allowed to sedate him without having checked his condition, whether he had any allergies or whether he was already on any medicine.
“We called the Żabbar police station at least 20 times over a three day period to get him some help as he wasn’t in a very good mental health situation,” Ronnie’s nephew Dylan said. “However, we needed to have the situation worsen before you came. And we found no help from the police.”
He criticised the way police had framed the situation, as well as reports that Ronnie was “armed”.
“This doctor and group of officers came to our house and threw everyone out and took the law into their own hands,” he said.
“And another thing – when you say a person is armed, say it was with a broomstick, and that one floor beneath him were 20 RIU officers armed to the teeth. The tranquillizer didn’t need to be given,” Dylan continued.
The family are now calling for a toxicology report as well as an investigation into the death and the circumstances that led up to it.
Police had gone to a residence in Triq Alessio Erardi, Żabbar, at 7pm following a report that someone was throwing things from a rooftop.
Ghiller acted aggressively towards a Paola Health Centre doctor who was there to assist, according to reports. He eventually locked himself in a room on the roof before emerging and continued his erratic behaviour.
He then went back upstairs and reportedly tried to jump through a window.
A stun gun was used to restrain him, police said, with an injection being used on Ghiller to calm him. He was taken to Mater Dei and was pronounced dead shortly after 11pm that evening.