Monthly Archives: December 2017

Peel Regional Police Shoot and Kill Man in Mississauga, Ontario (Dec. 30, 2017)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating after Peel Regional Police shot and killed a man in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 30, 2017. According to the SIU, Peel police were called about a “disturbance” at a residence in the city around 12:30 AM. When officers arrived at the person in question had left the scene but it is believed he was located a short distance from the area of the initial call. Upon encountering the man there was allegedly some form of interaction and a police officer discharged their weapon, striking the man. The man was taken, with no vital signs, to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and was pronounced dead in hospital early Saturday. It has not been said publicly what the disturbance involved. There has been no public confirmation of any of the police claims and it is not known why the man left the residence or if the man killed was the same man.

The SIU has assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to the incident. There are five witness officers.


Sûreté du Québec Shoot and Kill 36-Year-Old Man at Danford Lake, Quebec (Dec. 28, 2017)

Police in Quebec are ending 2017 in bloody fashion. On Thursday, December 28 they shot and killed a 36-year-old man at Danford Lake, Outaouais, about 250 kilometers northwest of Montreal. That same day officers in the northern Inuit community of Umiujaq shot and killed a 22-year-old man.

Quebec’s Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in the province, reports that at Danford Lake, a man called police around 10 PM Thursday evening to say his son was unwell and had left his house with an arrow and an iron bar. Another call was placed by someone suggesting that if officers did not arrive in 20 minutes he would kill the father. Sûreté du Québec officers allegedly arrived around 11 PM and located a man with a bow and arrow and an iron bar (It is not clear of the father said he only had an arrow or a bow and arrow).  Officers then fired their service weapons at the 36-year-old. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead there. None of the police accounts has been independently confirmed publicly.


Quebec Police Shoot and Kill 22-Year-Old Man in Umiujaq (Dec. 28, 2017)

Police in the northern Quebec town of Umiujaq, a northern Inuit community in Nunavik, shot and killed a 22-year-old man on Thursday, December 28, 2017. Quebec’s Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the killing. The BEI reports that police had attended the man’s home in order to arrest him but he refused to leave the house. One officer remained at the scene while another departed to obtain a warrant to enter the residence. At some point after the one officer left, the man exited the house and attempted to enter a local community center. Police attempted to prevent him from entering. The BEI reports that the man was shot when he turned in the direction of officers. No other details have been released. The BEI has assigned seven investigators to the case. The Hudson Bay town is located more than 1200 kilometers north of Montreal. It was relocated as a result of the colonial James Bay hydroelectric project.


Man Dies in Alleged Standoff with Edmonton Police, Few Details Disclosed (Dec. 24, 2017)

Very few details have been released publicly following the death of a man during an alleged standoff with officers of the Edmonton Police Service. Police engaged the man, allegedly armed, at a south Edmonton hotel beginning on the afternoon of Saturday, December 23, 2017. The encounter carried over into early Sunday morning, December, 24,  and ended with thee man’s death.

Edmonton police report responding to a weapons complaint, not specified publicly, at the Royal Lodge Motel on Gateway Boulevard and 38 Avenue at about 2:20 PM, after an unnamed man was allegedly shot and taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police began negotiating with another man, said to be the shooter, who was contained and alone in a hotel suite. The standoff ended at around 2:00 AM on December 24, with the death of the shooting suspect from undisclosed causes.

Police report that the Alberta Director of Law Enforcement has instructed them to investigate the incident because it involves an in-custody death. There is no suggestion that the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the institution that is supposed to investigate cases of police harm to civilians is or will be investigating this case. It has not been said publicly why police would be investigating police in this case.

None of the police claims have been independently confirmed publicly.


Provincial Police Kill Babak Saidi Inside Morrisburg Detachment, Release Few Details (Dec. 23, 2017)

Many disturbing questions remain after Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) shot and killed 43-year-old Babak Saidi inside the detachment in Morrisburg, Ontario on Saturday, December 23, 2017. Saidi, who experienced schizophrenia, was under conditions to check in weekly at the detachment following a 2014 conviction for assault and battery. He had been making those weekly check-ins regularly before something went deeply wrong during the December 23 check-in. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that investigates police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating. They have assigned seven investigators to the scene. Morrisburg is 80 milometers south of the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

Babak Saidi headed to the Saturday morning check-in with a tin full of freshly baked muffins, a Christmas gift for his father and a family friend who were providing his ride to the detachment. For family, the muffins were a sign that Babak Saidi was in a good mood. Hi sister, Elly Saidi remembers him fondly: “My brother, he was the kindest, sweetest, most loving person. He had a mental disability, and we need to know how to deal with a person with mental disability” (quoted in Pritchard 2017).

Few details have been released publicly regarding what happened at the detachment, but his sister has provided her father’s view of events as he experienced and witnessed them. Elly Saidi reports that, according to her father, the three were told to wait about 15 minutes when they arrived at the police station. They decided to go do some grocery shopping, and when they returned, Babak Saidi left the car to go inside. In very short order the father would see his son the ground, with two officers on top of him. Babak Saidi was taken into the detachment by officers and, according to the father, two shots were heard within two minutes. The SIU has confirmed that Babak Saidi was the person struck by the officer fired shots and that he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Oddly,  a police officer then told Saidi’s father and his friend to go to a nearby Tim Hortons and wait until someone arrived to explain what happened. After a few hours, police finally arrived to deliver an awful message in an apparently cold manner. According to Elly Saidi: “They waited for a few hours, and then the police came. My dad asked the police, ‘Where is my son?’ And the police officer told my dad that, sorry, your son is gone” (quoted in Pritchard 2017).

This was all the family was told about what happened, a full ten hours after the shooting. The family says this delay and the ongoing lack of information are “unacceptable.” They are, sadly, too common in cases of police killings of civilians in Canada.

In Elly Said’s words: “I have to be strong for my parents. It’s very hard to see my mom and my dad crying and being heartbroken. My mom was sitting in a corner of the room, hugging my brother’s picture. And all she’s saying is, ‘I don’t know what happened. I don’t know where his body is’” (quoted in Pritchard 2017). A worker with homeless youth in Ottawa, she says she needs to speak out because of the numerous cases of police violence, including lethal violence, inflicted on people with mental health issues in Canadian contexts. Reflecting on police in Canada, she says:

“They have absolutely no tools and no awareness to deal with people with mental disability. Too many people with mental disabilities have died at the hands of the police. They need to have education and awareness [of] how to deal with people with mental disability. And not [assume] they’re all bad and a menace to society.” (quoted in Pritchard 2017)

The SIU has reported that they will be interviewing the subject officer as well as 10 officers who were witnesses. One can only imagine how police witnesses to police killings will report events. There have been issues with timelines for interviewing police officers following police involved killings, with no assurances that officers will not compare and fix their stories.

 

Further Reading

Pritchard, Trevor. 2017. “Family Demands Answers After Fatal Shooting in Morrisburg, Ont. OPP Detachment.” CBC News. December 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/family-demands-answers-after-fatal-shooting-at-morrisburg-ont-opp-detachment-1.4463915

 


Data Show Third Consecutive Yearly Increase in Police-Involved Deaths in BC

A database of deaths involving BC law enforcement shows an increase in police-involved deaths of civilians in the province in 2016, the third year in a row such an increase has been recorded. The database is maintained by The Georgia Straight newsmagazine, and journalist Travis Lupick, and uses information from the BC Coroners Service and the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. The records account for people dying during interactions with police and in law enforcement agency custody. Numbers for 2017 are still being compiled and assessed.

Over the period of 2009 to 2013, reported police involved deaths were at 13 or 14 each year. In 2014, the number of recorded deaths rose to 16. There were 17 recorded in 2015 and 18 in 2016. The eighteen recorded deaths in 2016 represents the highest number recorded for a single year in the database, which traces back to 2003. In 2007 there were 17 deaths reported, the second highest number.

The database records show that the increase has been driven by the RCMP, which polices 150 municipalities across the province as well as serving as a provincial and a federal force. While many of those are jurisdictions are small towns, and several notable killings by police have occurred in small towns and in the north, the RCMP is also responsible for larger cities, including Metro Vancouver centers of Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey. In 2012, four people died during interactions with RCMP officers, while the number rose to seven in 2013, six in 2014, 12 in 2015, then 12 again in 2016.

In terms of shootings, since 2006, there have been an average of 3.8 recorded fatal shootings by police each year. Total numbers for the database include deaths in BC prisons (omitting natural causes). Deaths in prisons continue to constitute a relative minority in the reported cases. The database suggests that many of the cases of reported police-involved deaths involve issues of mental health and/or substance use. Issues like race, and racism, and impacts of colonialism are not systematically documented.

There are no official recording and communicating procedures for documenting police-involved killings in British Columbia, nor are there in other Canadian provinces. This leads the public to believe police killings of civilians in Canada occur less frequently than they actually do. We have heard people express on numerous occasions the belief that police killings of civilians in Canada in single digit numbers each year—for the country as a whole. The reported numbers obviously do not include any killings of civilians by police that police do not report.

 

The database can be accessed at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aLNSF4Hkk9XdVKeuVU6ZrRO6GtSxT4t8TiMiQ6ptLrY/edit#gid=0


Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo Faces New Charges of Perjury and Attempting to Obstruct Justice

Killer Toronto cop James Forcillo has been charged with perjury and attempting to obstruct justice in relation to an attempted bail variation it was announced on December 21, 2017. The 34-year-old Constable Forcillo allegedly lied under oath when he sought a bail variation that would change his primary address. This resulted in the two new charges, according to Toronto police. The charges result from breach of bail allegations by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU). This initiated a separate investigation by the Toronto Police Service’s professional standards unit. Forcillo had his bail revoked in November, 2017, and was taken to a Toronto area jail after authorities found he failed to live with his surety and did not provide information of a change of address.

Forcillo had already secured a place of infamy, even within the dubious history of policing in Canada, for shooting Toronto Youth Sammy Yatim (18) multiple times, killing him, while the teenager was alone on an empty streetcar with no one near, and posing no threat to police or the public. Forcillo was convicted in 2016 of attempted murder for that 2013 killing, because he shot Sammy Yatim even after the youth had fallen to ground and was already dead or dying, and was sentenced to six years. Civilian video of the police interaction went viral and showed that Yatim posed no threat to police or the public yet was shot and killed anyway.

Forcillo had been out on bail while awaiting appeal of that conviction. He is seeking to use the bogus “suicide by cop” excuse to get off (even though he had a choice not to shoot Yatim and even though he shot him after he was on the ground and not moving—hardly suicide in either case). Current court records show that Forcillo had applied to have the conditions of his bail changed so that he could live with his new fiancée, Sara Balderrama, at an apartment in north Toronto. However, before that application was approved, investigators visited Balderrama’s apartment and found Forcillo already there. The records allege that he told investigators his new arrangement was “only temporary”and suggest it was Forcillo, not his fiancée, who had signed the lease.

Killer cop Forcillo remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court to face the new charges on December 29, 2017.


No Charges Against Two Winnipeg Cops Investigating Killer Cop Justin Holz, Despite “Improper Conduct”: When Cops Investigate Cops

On December 20, 2017, it was announced that no charges will be brought against two Winnipeg police officers assigned to help investigate the hit-and-run killing of Cody Severight (23) by Winnipeg officer Justin Holz (34) on October 10, 2017. Severight, of the Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg, was struck by the vehicle driven by Holz while crossing Main Street near Sutherland Avenue around 8 PM. Officer Holz had been out drinking before getting into his vehicle. He has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

Two other Winnipeg officers involved in the investigation into Holz’s killing of Severight were placed on administrative leave ten days after the killing.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), the agency that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province, reported that it had been notified of “irregular and improper conduct of two officers.” The IIU has now concluded that no charges should be laid and reported this in an uninformative media release. IIU director Zane Tessler said in that release: “It’s kind of difficult to discuss the specifics of [my decision] given that everything is intertwined in pending matters that are still before the court.“ Indeed developing excuses for letting cops off the hook can take time and is no doubt “difficult to discuss” in a way that they public would accept.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) may continue its “investigation” into the two officers. Both officers have returned to duty and the WPS says it will not be commenting further. By now we have come to know what to expect when police investigate police.


Surrey RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran Charged in Killing of Hudson Brooks

RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and one count of assault with a weapon in the 2015 killing of 20-year-old Hudson Brooks in Surrey, British Columbia. Brooks was shot by RCMP and killed outside the District 5 RCMP detachment on 152 Street in south Surrey at around 2:30 AM on July 18, 2015.

The BC Prosecution Service approved the charges on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, following a 15-month investigation by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia, the unit that investigates police harm to civilians in the province.  Incredibly, the IIO wrapped up its investigation and sent its report to the BC Prosecution Service to consider charges in October of 2016. Yes, 14 months ago. So more questions are raised in a case that already has too many about why the Crown prosecutors took so long to lay charges. Is it because the killer was a police officer, an RCMP constable? This question must be asked given the tendency by Crown not to bring charges against killer cops even where charges are recommended.

Brooks was unarmed, dressed in shorts and flip flops when officers approached him outside the detachment. He was said to be screaming, possibly asking for help, according to some witnesses, when he was shot and killed. An officer was also shot and in first reports it was suggested that the officer had somehow been injured by Brooks, the implication being a shootout. It turns out this was a police distortion, perhaps designed to cast suspicion on the victim and to legitimize the officers’ actions publicly. It was eventually revealed that the officer had been shot by a weapon fired by police (no weapons other than police weapons were on the scene).

This has been a grueling process for the Brooks family who have worked hard to gain information about the killing of their loved one and to see those officers responsible held to some account. Family and friends of Hudson Brooks started a movement called Justice For Hudson to bring public attention to and to call for information about the police killing. They held several marches through south Surrey which were attended by hundreds of people and went right to the RCMP detachment. The Brooks family has repeatedly stated their frustration publicly with the length of time for the investigation and the lack of responsiveness by authorities.

Killer cop Cucheran is scheduled for a first appearance in Surrey provincial court on January 9, 2018.

 


Inquest Set for In-Custody Death of Ina Matawapit of North Caribou Lake First Nation after Lengthy Delay

After five years, a date has finally been set for the inquest into the death in police custody of 37-year-old Ina Matawapit, at the Weagamow Lake Nursing Station in North Caribou Lake First Nation, in northern Ontario. Matawapit died on June 7, 2012 after a transfer from a police vehicle while in custody. Matawapit’s case was one of several that have been egregiously delayed due to widespread problems with Indigenous representation on jury rolls. This ongoing, entrenched problem has characterized criminal justice systems and inquests in the Canadian state context. At least 20 cases in Ontario have been delayed by province’s jury roll problems.

The inquest into Matawapit’s death is mandatory under the Coroners Act because she was in custody at the time. The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding her death by hearing from about 10 witnesses over the scheduled six days of proceedings. Dr. Michael Wilson will be presiding coroner during the inquest which is scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM on February 12, 2018 at the Days Inn in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.