Is it possible that police harassment or intimidation could lead someone to kill themselves? Is it possible that police might communicate to a vulnerable suspect in such a way that the person might then take their own life? Could fear of a specific officer lead someone to kill themselves if that officer called to tell them of an impending arrest or threaten them? These are only some of the questions that needed to be raised after a 43-year-old Smith Falls, Ontario, man killed himself on June 3, 2017, after a Rideau Lakes OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) officer called to tell him that he was facing charges and told him he should turn himself in.
Unfortunately, the head of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario, Tony Loparco, decided to terminate the investigation into the man’s death. That investigation had three SIU and two forensics investigators starting work. In an SIU media release, Loparco is quoted as saying:
“A post-mortem examination confirmed that the man died as a result of complications from a gunshot to the chest. When the man shot himself, no police officer was present. As such, there being no evidence that any police officer was responsible for the man’s death, this investigation has been terminated.”
This conclusion might be satisfying for police, their promoters, and copagandists everywhere but it does not address the key, pressing questions. Did the officer’s communication with the man contribute to his shooting himself? No officer needed to be present if intimidation, harassment, or threats led the man to despair. By terminating the investigation Loparco has ensured that these questions will not be properly pursued to real answers. Loparco has appeared quite friendly to police and drawn criticism from families of victims of police violence during his tenure.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates police harm to civilians in Ontario, is examining the death of a 34-year-old man at a residence in Windsor on Friday, September 15, 2017. According to the SIU, police were assisting an investigation by police in nearby Amherstburg, Ontario. They say police set up a perimeter around the Windsor home, later entering to find the man dead in the garage.
A Winnipeg mother is grieving and seeking answers after Winnipeg police shot and 23-year-old son, Adrian Lacquette in the early morning hours of September 13, 2017. Jo-Anne Malcolm says she found out about her son’s killing when representatives of the Independent Investigations Unit (IIU) came to her home around 6:00 AM. Malcolm recounts that interaction: “They said, ‘Do you know Adrian?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my son.’ I knew right away, I didn’t even ask. I said, ‘Is he dead?’ and they said, ‘Yeah. Sorry to tell you, ma’am. He was shot this morning” (quoted in Malone 2017). This is the ninth police shooting of a civilian in Manitoba since June 2015.
Police have claimed that a man, whom they would not name, was shot on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street in the city’s North End just before 1:00 AM Wednesday. Malcolm reports being told that the incident involved suspicion of a stolen car.
Clayton Campbell, who lives on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street, said that the incident happened very quickly. Police seemed to open fire shortly after encountering the victim. In his words: “It happened in a moment, a split moment. It was an eruption of gunfire” (quoted in Malone 2017).
Jo-Anne Malcolm wants to know what happened. In her words: “I want everybody to know that they shot my son for nothing, for a stolen car. I don’t think they should have shot him. My son is well-known to police, but they don’t have to treat him like that” (quoted in Malone 2017).
Malone, Kelly. 2017. “23-Year-Old Shot Dead By Winnipeg Police.” CBC News. September 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/north-end-police-serious-incident-1.4287071
St. Paul Alberta RCMP shot and killed a 26-year-old man at Whitefish Lake First Nation on September 6, 2017. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) reports that RCMP claim they responded to a disturbance call on the Whitefish First Nation (180 km northeast of Edmonton) around 6:15 PM. The first officer arrived on scene at about 7:45 PM having traveled from St. Paul, which is about 60 km southeast of the scene. According to ASIRT the officer saw a man walking on the side of a road and initiated an encounter with him. According to ASIRT this encounter became a “confrontation” which ended when the RCMP officer shot the man resulting in his death. The man died of his injuries on the way to hospital.
None of the details provided by police have been independently confirmed. It is not known publicly if anyone other than the cop who killed the victim witnessed the killing. It bears noting that the RCMP was founded as and remains a settler colonial military force.
Edmonton police have been responsible for the deaths of several civilians over the last year. On September 9, 2017, they killed again. In this case they shot and killed a 29-year-old man in the parking lot at the Westmount Shopping Centre at approximately 8;15 PM. Police first boxed the man in in his vehicle. Shortly thereafter police shot and killed the man. Neighbors have reported hearing so much gunfire they thought there was an explosion. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) which investigates cases of police harm to civilians is investigating. No police have been reported as being injured. Police claim the man was wanted on an outstanding warrant but no details have been provided and this has not been independently confirmed.
The Regina Police Service will conduct an investigation into the death of a 46-year-old woman at the RCMP Indian Head detachment on Saturday, September 2, 2017. The woman was in the cell area and paramedics took her to Indian Head Hospital where she was declared dead. Police are using one of the dubious designations they favor, sudden death, to describe the case. No further details have been provided publicly. There is no independent oversight body to examine cases of police harm to civilians in Saskatchewan. Police are allowed to investigate police.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the police involved death of a 48-year-old man in Sudbury in the early morning of Monday, September 4, 2017. According to the SIU, Sudbury police responded to a call shortly after midnight and set up a perimeter around a residence. Police officers and paramedics entered the home around two and a half hours later and a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. No other details have been provided publicly, including the reason for the initial call, nor information about what transpired after police entered the house. The SIU has assigned three SIU investigators and two forensic investigators to examine this case. The victim’s name has not been released.