Category Archives: Deaths

RCMP Fire Weapon, 35-Year-old Man Left Dead near Qualicum Beach, BC (Oct. 12, 2017)

The Independent Investigations Office is investigating circumstances that left a 35-year-old man dead after a confrontation with police near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.

RCMP claim that officers were called to a highway near Qualicum Beach on the morning of Thursday, October 12, 2017, over reports of a man who had stabbed himself. Police claim they chased the man down the highway and a struggle ensured during which an officer fired a shot. Paramedics apparently arrived to provide medical assistance but the man died of injuries sustained.

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Winnipeg Killer Cop Justin Holz Charged in Killing Indigenous Youth Cody Severight

Winnipeg police Constable Justin Holz has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failure to remain at the scene after striking and killing pedestrian Cody Severight (23) with his vehicle on the evening of Tuesday, October 10, 2017. According to the Independent Investigations Unit, which is examining the killing, the 34-year-old Holz was located more than seven kilometers away fro the crash scene. Holz is an eight-year member of the Winnipeg police and was assigned as a criminal investigator. He has been placed on administrative leave but is still being paid. Winnipeg police traffic collision investigators assisted the IIU with a breathalyzer but it has not been revealed publicly whether Holz had a blood test to determine alcohol levels.

Holz was apparently working the day shift and would have gotten off work around 4:30 PM. He then allegedly went drinking until the crash at around 8:00 PM. Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth tried to suggest it is not unusual for someone to go for drinks after work. The issue here through is that the cop then apparently decide to get in his vehicle and race home.

Witness Donnie Fizell has reported seeing a car speeding down the street before striking Severight. In his words: “He must have flew 15 feet in the air and his head hit the curb. [Constable Holz] must have been doing 80 [km/h] when he hit that poor boy” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Cody Severight is from the Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. He had recently started classes at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre to obtain his Grade 12. He and his partner were expecting a baby soon (Bernhardt 2017). His grandmother Gloria Lebold describes him: “He was a sweet little guy, always joking around, just being a little fun person” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Severight’s aunt, Nancy Gabriel, spoke honestly about the situation and noted the anti-Indigenous racism that has marked Winnipeg policing. In her view, police are supposed to be protecting people, “not killing people” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017). She continued: “As soon as he struck him he should have stopped straight away, not just keep on driving. You know how that looks, that looks like, ‘Oh that’s just another native.’ He was a good guy” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Cody Severight will be buried next to his mother.

This is the third incident of police harm to civilians that the IIU has had to investigate this week alone in Winnipeg.

 

Further Reading

Bernhardt, Darren. 2017. “Winnipeg Police Officer Charged in Fatal Hit and Run Allegedly Impaired.” CBC News. October 11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pedestrian-cody-severight-dies-1.4349125


Winnipeg Officer Arrested For Death of Pedestrian struck by Vehicle (Oct. 10, 2017)

The Independent Investigations Unit (IIU), which examines cases of police harm to civilians, is investigating the death of a 23-year-old pedestrian struck and killed by a vehicle Tuesday around 8 PM at the corner of Main Street and Sutherland Avenue. The investigation has led to the arrest of a Winnipeg police officer. The young victim was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died as a result of the injuries caused by the officer.


Victims of Fatal Police Chase Identified as Teenagers Nathan Wehlre (15) and Taryn Hewitt (16)

Fifteen-year-old Nathan Wehlre from Cambridge, Ontario and 16-year-old Taryn Hewitt of London, Ontario have been publicly identified as the victims of a fatal police chase on October 5, 2017, that ended in a crash described as “devastating” between the car being pursued and a transport truck. Family members have described the two as being in a relationship. The police chase was initiated by officers of the Waterloo Regional Police after a witness saw the couple arguing on the street in Cambridge, Ontario. The crash occurred on Highway 6 between Guelph and Hamilton. The Special Investigations Unit, which examines police harm to civilians, is investigating.


Two Killed in Police Chase near Guelph (October 5, 2017)

Two people, a man and a woman, are dead following a police pursuit on Highway 6, south of Guelph, Ontario, around 10 AM on the morning of October 5, 2017. The car had been pursued by officers of the Waterloo Regional Police. The pursuit started at 9:30 AM. The pursued vehicle then drove east on Highway 401, then turned south onto Highway 6. At about 9:55 AM, roughly 30 KM away from the location at which the officers first tried to intercept the car, the vehicle collided head-on with a transport truck in a devastating crash that destroyed the car and killed its occupants. Both the male driver and the female passenger of the pursued vehicle were pronounced dead at the crash scene. The transport truck driver was not physically injured.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines case of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating the chase and crash.  They have not disclosed how many Waterloo Regional Police officers were involved although reportedly at least three police cruisers were at the crash scene.


SIU Investigating Death of 26-Year-Old Woman Arrested by Windsor Police

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines case of police harm to civilians in Ontario, has assigned two investigators to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman arrested by Windsor police on September 4, 2017. The woman was taken to the police station before being transported to hospital. She was released the following day but readmitted on September 10.  She ended up on life support under circumstances that have not been explained publicly and was pronounced dead on September 18 after being taken off life support. No further details have been released publicly.


High Speed OPP Police Chase Results in Death of Sheila Walsh (Sept. 25, 2017, Arnprior)

A high speed police chase by members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) ended in the death of Sheila Walsh (65), who was not the target of the chase. The driver of the pursued vehicle, a pickup truck, crashed into the vehicle being driven by Walsh with the truck bursting into flames. Walsh was declared dead at the scene. After the crash police told neighbors to evacuate their homes because of gasoline spilling out at the scene.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines harm to civilians by police in Ontario, is investigating the high-speed pursuit and how OPP officers responded to the situation. According to the SIU, police claim that at about 3:20 PM on September 25, 2017, the OPP responded to a call about a reportedly stolen vehicle in Eganville, around 130 kilometers west of Ottawa. The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle in question headed toward Arnprior on Highway 60, then to Highway 17, where the OPP began their pursuit. The truck collided with Welsh’s car a bit after 4 PM as she was pulling from her driveway on Daniel Street.

The SIU has assigned five investigators, two forensic investigators, and one collision reconstructionist to investigate the crash and the circumstances leading to it. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. It is known that the risky and careless police decision to pursue enforcement of property rights has led to the death of a civilian.

One witness put it in clearly sensible term, In the words of Eric Bayley, a Bell Canada worker who observed the chase and crash while working:

 

“The chase should never have happened. If the guy robbed a bank they would have got him sooner or later. It was a stolen vehicle. Big freakin’ deal. Now a poor grandmother, mother, sister is dead. There’s no … way in hell those cops should have been chasing them down that … road.” (quoted in Crawford and Gillis 2017)

 

Continued Bayley:

“There had to have been eight cop cars and three Suburbans wide open going down Daniel Street. It could have been a lot worse. I was talking to my buddy on the phone and I was like, ‘Holy s—t. This is not going to go well.’ He said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I said, ‘There’s a high-speed chase. There’s cruiser after cruiser after cruiser.’” (quoted in Crawford and Gillis 2017)

 

Indeed, a  flag worker on construction site the chase plowed through had to leap to safety.

Ontario’s Police Services Act sets out the rules governing police pursuits. According to the Act, police can pursue or continue pursuit “if the police officer has reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed; or for the purposes of motor vehicle identification or the identification of an individual in the vehicle.” The Act also further states police must continually weigh whether “the immediate need to apprehend an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle or the need to identify the fleeing motor vehicle or an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle outweighs the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit.” Dispatch must be notified of the pursuit and the (Crawford and Gillis 2017).

 

Further Reading

Crawford, Blair and Megan Gillis. 2017. “Eganville Man Faces  Charges After Woman Killed in Crash During Police Chase.” Ottawa Citizen September 27.  http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/witness-describes-devastating-and-deadly-arnprior-crash