Police Involved in Man’s Death in Calgary (June 19, 2019)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the death of a man during an unspecified interaction with police officers in downtown Calgary early in the morning of June 19, 2019. It has been reported that the death occurred along Riverfront Avenue in the city’s center. No other information has been released publicly, including why police interacted with the man or what the interaction involved.

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Ontario Provincial Police Kill 48-Year-Old “Man in Distress” in Tecumseh (June 14, 2019)

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) shot and killed a 48-year-old man in Tecumseh, Ontario, near Windsor, on the evening of June 14, 2019. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, police entered a home at 605 Estate Park at around 10:15 PM. The SIU reports police were responding to calls of a “man in distress.” While interacting with the man a police officer shot discharged a firearm, striking and killing the man.

The SIU has assigned five investigators, including two forensic specialists, to the case. A post-mortem has been scheduled in London, Ontario.

Police in Canada kill numerous people experiencing mental distress each year.


Indigenous Father Geoff Morris (41) Killed by Regina Police (May 4, 2019).

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for an independent investigation after the killing of Geoff Morris (41) by Regina Police Service officers on May 4, 2019. In a news release, FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat noted that,

“We have seen officers investigating their fellow officers and we all know how those investigations turn out. We are calling on the Regina Police Service to allow for an outside and independent oversight body to be a part of this investigation. We have been calling for this for years and these senseless police-related deaths keep happening.”

Morris was shot and killed by Regina police, during what cops say was a hostage situation. There are reasons to be skeptical about this given the lack of public information around another recent alleged hostage-taking in which two people were killed by RCMP in Surrey, British Columbia in March 2019. In that case it was later revealed that police had shot and killed both people, including the alleged hostage Nona McEwan. Notably, Regina Police chief Evan Bray would not say whether an alleged hostage was still being held when the shooting occurred.

Indeed, the police justification of events is being contradicted by Morris’ fiancé, Jasmine Brass, who says she was present when Morris was killed. In her words: “Honestly it wasn’t necessary for them to kill him, they could’ve just tased him” (quoted in Melnychuck 2019). She reports that Morris had been struggling with mental health issues and that she and her sister were with Morris trying to help him the morning he was killed by police.

Brass also reports that he became more agitated when police arrived, a not uncommon occurrence as the appearance of police typically heightens tensions and stress. She gives a chilling account, saying on facebook that she heard a “bang” and felt a splatter of blood at the moment of killing. Incredibly Brass reports that police shot Morris while she sat between his legs.

Morris was biological father to four children. He also took in six other children and raised them. One daughter, Tanisha Whiteman, remembers him as a good, loving man who struggled with anxiety issues. She asks why police acted so quickly to kill. In her words:

“That’s somebody’s father. That’s somebody’s son. That’s somebody’s brother, somebody’s nephew. He was loved by so many people. Why? Just like that, he’s gone. There could have been other ways that could have been handled. They didn’t have to take someone’s life away (quoted in Whitfield 2019a).

Heartbreaking words about the role played by police came from 12-year-old son Nakayoh Friday: “I want people to know that the people who were supposed to protect us aren’t protecting us. They are killing us. I don’t want other families to go through my pain” (quoted in Whitfield 2019b).

According to Regina Police chief Evan Bray, legislation requires that the Regina Police Service’s Major Crime unit investigates the shooting. Cops investigating cops. The officer involved in the shooting was a member of the patrol response remains on active duty.

Regina police claim that the killing of Morris is the first killing by an officer in the city since 1998. Police also claim that there have been four officer-involved shootings in the last 10 years, with none of those resulting in the death of the victim.

 

Further Reading

Melnychuck, Mark. 2019. “Fiancee of Man Shot by Regina Police Questions Why Officer Used Lethal Force.” Regina Leader-Post May 6. https://www.journalpioneer.com/news/canada/fiancee-of-man-shot-by-regina-police-questions-why-officer-used-lethal-force-308570/

Whitfield, Janani. 2019a. “’He Didn’t Deserve to Die Like That’: Man Killed by Regina Police Was a ‘Family Man.’” CBC News May 5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/hostage-taking-incident-regina-geoff-morris-1.5124018

Whitfield, Janani. 2019b. “Children of Man Shot Dead by Regina Police Say He Was Close to Turning Life Around.” CBC News May 7. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-shooting-police-death-1.5126084


Man Tased, Dies in Calgary Police Custody (May 1, 2019)

A man who died in Calgary police custody on the morning of May 1 had been tased while police officers arrested him. Police had engaged in a struggle with the man. It is reported that a canine unit was present during the arrest.

Deputy Chief Ryan Ayliffe said that the victim, reported to be a man in his 40s, was rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition.

Police were allegedly responding to a “targeted hit and run.”

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Alberta, is investigating the circumstances surrounding the man’s death, including the cause of death and what happened during the struggle. It has been reported that six officers, five from patrol and one from the canine unit, are currently being interviewed by ASIRT. The officers involved have been given a 30-day administrative leave.


Woman Dies in RCMP Custody in Dawson Creek, British Columbia (April 13/14, 2019)

A woman died in RCMP custody in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, some time during the weekend of April 13 and 14, 2019. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, has reported RCMP arrested the woman, along with a man, in Dawson Creek, on April 13. She was held in a cell, where paramedics attended later in the day due to unspecified “behavior.” The IIO reports that at some point she went into medical distress. She was airlifted to Prince George Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead early on April 14.

The IIO has launched an investigation into the death.


Man Arrested Following Business Complaint Dies in RCMP Custody in Kamloops (March 13, 2019)

A man who was arrested by RCMP in Kamloops, British Columbia, allegedly following a complaint from a business has died while in custody on March 13, 2019. Police reportedly arrested the man under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act at around 9;30 PM on the evening of March 12. The man was allegedly found unresponsive in his cell before 6 AM on March 13 and pronounced dead.

The Independent Investigations Office, the agency that examines cases of police violence in British Columbia, is investigating the death. No other details have been released publicly.


Manitoba First Nations Police Kill Benjamin Richard (23) on Long Plain First Nation (April 2, 2019)

Manitoba First Nations Police shot and killed 23-year-old Benjamin Richard on Long Plain First Nation on the evening of April 2, 2019. The victim’s identity was confirmed publicly by his sister Patricia Richard. She reports that she called police after speaking with her mother because she believed her brother to be ‘freaking out’ and shooting out of the house where her mother lives.

Patricia Richard had hoped police would protect her brother, not shoot him. She is upset at how police handled the situation, believing it could have and should have ended differently.

She has since said that her mother told her: “They went rushing in there. Everything happened too quick. She said they didn’t have to [shoot him]. He wasn’t threatening anyone, he just snapped on himself” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

The victim’s niece, Tammy Smith, said she was outside the house in a pickup truck with Richard’s mother when three officers spotted Richard through a window and started shooting at him. She describes a chaotic, reckless, rush to lethal force. In her words: “I was backing up to see if I could see Ben, when all the shots came from the (police). I’m pretty sure they all unloaded their clips. We just started screaming” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

She echoed the family’s feelings of anger over how the situation was handled: “It should not have escalated to that point. They should have waited for more people. They should have tried to wait it out. They were all outside, shooting through the walls and windows. They never even entered the house…” (quoted in Rollason 2019)

Witnesses suggest that the victim was only firing his weapon into an empty field and the ceiling of the house. They say he posed no threat to anyone, but was simply upset. She relates: “His mother, last week, called the [police] to take him to the hospital so he could be assessed. But when they came and talked to him, they said he wasn’t a threat to anyone. Then a week later, they come back and shoot him” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Patricia Richard has said that in her view the officers were “trigger-happy.” She suggests: “They knew my brother needed help a few days before anything happened. He was unstable. Everyone saw the signs” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

And she concludes: “I believe what happened could have been 100 per cent preventable” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Smith remembers Benjamin Richard in these terms: “He was kind, caring and always thinking of others more than himself. The world lost a great man. My heart breaks” (quoted in Macdonnell 2019).

According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Manitoba, it was notified by Manitoba First Nations Police that officers had responded to a report of a man armed with a firearm in a residence at around 6 PM. During an encounter at least one office fired a weapon, striking the man. The victim, Benjamin Richard was pronounced dead on the scene. Three officers involved in the case are now on administrative leave.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “Man Shot Dead by First Nations Police Force in Manitoba, Family Says.” CBC News April 3. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-first-nations-police-long-plain-1.5082537

Macdonnell, Beth. 2019. “Man Dead after Officer-Involved Shooting on Long Plain First Nation.” CTV News April 3. https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/man-dead-after-officer-involved-shooting-on-long-plain-first-nation-1.4363800

Rollason, Kevin. 2019. “Officers Called ‘Trigger-Happy.’” Winnipeg Free Press April 4. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/officers-called-trigger-happy-508094702.html