No explanation has been given for why charges of criminal negligence causing death have been dropped against Constable Mark McKillop of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in the death of Debra Chrisjohn (39) of Oneida Nation of the Thames.
In a public statement Chrisjohn’s family said this about the dropping of charges: “The decision by the Crown… is hard for the family to understand. We hope that everyone who played a role will be held accountable.”
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, had charged two police officers with the death of Chrisjohn—Constable Nicholas Doering of the London Police Service (LPS) and OPP Constable McKillop. McKillop and Doering faced one charge each of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life. Doering will still face those charges.
London Police Service officers responded to calls made to 911 during the late afternoon of September 7, 2016. Chrisjohn was arrested by LPS and transferred into the custody of Ontario Provincial Police with the Elgin County detachment. At around 7:52 PM, Emergency Medical Services transported Chrisjohn to St. Thomas Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 8:43 PM.
Caitlyn Kasper, a lawyer at Aboriginal Legal Services and counsel for the family, noted that the family has still not been provided with basic details of the death of their loved one. Kasper explained in the public statement:
“Without knowing the specific details surrounding the death of Debra, it is difficult for the family to assess the decision by the office of the Crown attorney. However, we know that as this active prosecution moves towards preliminary inquiry or trial, more details will emerge. In the meantime, I certainly expect that the Ontario Provincial Police will be thoroughly reviewing the actions of Const. McKillop to determine if there were breaches of the Police Services Act.”