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.
The Office of the Chief Coroner in Northwest Territories (NWT) has called an inquest into the death of Beverly Elanik, a 51-year-old mother of five children who died in RCMP custody in Inuvik in January 2016. RCMP assumed that Elanik was intoxicated when they arrested here. While being processed to leave the following day, police claim she went into what they are calling “medical distress.” She was taken by police to the Inuvik hospital, where died. Eileen Edwards, Elanik’s mother, has stated publicly that police from Medicine Hat, Alberta, told her that her daughter had suffered a seizure. The inquest into Elanik’s death is scheduled to start on September 26 at the Mackenzie Hotel in Inuvik.
RCMP in NWT have said that the Medicine Hat Police Service will be conducting an external review of the incident. There is no process for independent review in place in the territory.
Excited delirium is one of the favored excuses used by police and their statist supporters when officers kill civilians. It is an explanation considered dubious based on medical evidence and research and has been largely promoted by the makers of tasers as a means of justifying deaths that result after taser deployment. The condition excited delirium is not found in DSM-5 or the ICD-10 (the current versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases, respectively). Excited delirium has not been recognized by the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association. Police psychologist Mike Webster called it a dubious diagnosis during the inquiry into the RCMP killing of Robert Dziekanski by taser at Vancouver International airport.
Yet coroners and supposed police oversight bodies in Canada continue to use the notion of excited delirium to excuse or legitimize police killings of civilians. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) seems particularly fond of using these excuses to justify killings of civilians by police. On August 28, 2017, ASIRT again trotted out the excited delirium excuse to justify the police killing of a 49-year-old man, Marcel Henry Moisan, in the late evening/early morning of December 7-8, 2015, involving multiple taser deployments and physical restraint.
In a media release ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson claimed the victim died as a result of excited delirium syndrome brought on by drugs in his bloodstream (not the use of tasers and/or restraints). Incredibly Hughson congratulated the Edmonton police for their use of “less-than-lethal force.” In her words: “Indeed, the resort to less-than-lethal force should be commended.” But they killed the man. Their use of force was exactly, precisely, lethal. It was not less than lethal.
ASIRT noted that Moisan (not named in the report) was experiencing some mental distress, and police had a record of a Mental Health Act encounter with the man in October of the same year. Yet no mental health care givers were dispatched to the scene. According to Hughson the man was clearly exhibiting distress to officers present and appeared to be rehearsing self harm actions. In her words: “He brought the knife to his throat. He appeared agitated, distraught, and confused.” He made “overt suicidal motions” appearing to slash at his neck with a knife.
In response police tased him again and placed him in leg restraints. Notes Hughson, in her release: “Within approximately two minutes and 55 seconds, the man went into medical distress. The restraints were immediately removed and CPR was commenced.” The man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The coroner who repeated the bogus excited delirium excuse said: “It is the opinion of the [medical examiner] that the man died as a result of excited delirium syndrome that was due to methamphetamine toxicity; struggle during police restraint was considered a significant contributory condition.” Yet the police were exonerated despite acknowledgement of the use and role of restraints (the excusing of taser use is right out of the company playbook).
It is, of course, rare for killer cops in Canada to be charged with criminal offenses for harming civilians. The state protects the state. One of those rare cases involves Alberta RCMP Constable Michelle Phillips. The constable has pleaded not guilty to two charges in the killing of 41-year-old Indigenous person Tracy Janvier on August 21, 2016. In June 2017, one count of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Constable Phillips was charged with The killer cop was not present in court when the pleas were entered by a lawyer on August 30, 2017. A preliminary inquiry is scheduled to be held in June 2018.
The charges came after an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. ASIRT concluded Janvier died as a result of being struck and killed by an RCMP vehicle traveling at “an extremely high rate of speed.” Constable Phillips had been responding to a call about an accident on the road in which Janivier, who had been struck by a previous vehicle, was being tended to by a 71-year-old man. Constable Phillips hit both the injured Janvier and the 71-year-old caregiver with her police vehicle at high speed.
At the time of the killing Constable Phillips had one year of service with the RCMP. RCMP have claimed the officers have been suspended with pay and will remain off duty until internal processes and all criminal charges against her are dealt with.