Category Archives: Deaths

Fatal Police-Involved Shooting in Exeter, Ontario (Dec. 3, 2019)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating a fatal shooting involving police in Exeter, Ontario, in the evening of December 3, 2019. Few details are yet available including the number of victims, the police force involved, or the nature of the police actions beyond the shooting. It has been reported that at least 10 police cruisers were on scene on Simcoe Street. Witnesses have reported hearing either a gunshot or gunshots.


Man Drowns During Police Chase in Port Alberni, British Columbia (Nov. 28, 2019)

The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm in the province, is investigating after a man drowned during a chase by police in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. The RCMP claim that the incident began at around 3 AM on the morning of November 28, 2019, following a call from a local business about an allegedly naked man cleaning off what the caller believed to be blood at a nearby car wash.

RCMP officers reportedly located the man and a chase ensued. The man allegedly ran into a river while being pursued by police and drowned.

No other information has been released publicly including any detail about the actions of police during their pursuit or what other actions were taken to interact with the man.


Man Dies During Traffic Stop Near Whitehorse, Yukon (Oct. 22, 2019)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating after a man died from a fatal gunshot during a traffic stop on a highway south of Whitehorse, Yukon. Yukon RCMP claim they had been asked to check on the well-being of a 48-year-old man. They allegedly conducted a traffic stop after seeing the man driving on the highway but claim that they heard a shot coming from the vehicle as they approached. The man was reported dead at the scene.

Police should not be the first response for people in mental health crisis. A large proportion of people killed by police in Canada are experiencing mental health crisis at the time that police confront them. Yukon has no independent oversight body for investigating police harm to civilians.


Police Pursuit Ends with Death of 36-Year-Old in New Tecumseth, Ontario (Sept. 16, 2019)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating a fatal collision in New Tecumseth (north of Toronto) resulting from a police pursuit on September 16, 2019. According to the SIU, an Ontario Provincial Police officer was operating a police vehicle in the New Tecumseth area at about 11:40 PM. The officer allegedly observed a Pontiac and began to follow the vehicle. No reason has been given publicly for why the officer took note of the vehicle or decided to pursue it.

At some point the Pontiac became involved in a collision with a Volkswagen in the area of 20th Sideroad and 5th Line. Two women in the Volkswagen, the 23-year-old driver and a 36-year-old passenger, were taken to hospital where the passenger was later pronounced dead. A woman who was a passenger in the Pontiac was also taken to hospital with injuries.

The SIU has assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to this case. At time of writing one subject officer has been designated.


Woman Falls to Death with RCMP Present in Surrey, British Columbia (Aug. 13, 2019)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating after a woman fell to her death in the presence of RCMP officers on August 13, 2019 in Surrey, British Columbia.

The IIO report that RCMP responded to an apartment complex in the 14000 block of 103A Avenue regarding a woman on the edge of a ninth floor balcony. Police entered the building, and, at some point, the woman fell. She died on the scene. No other details have been released publicly.

This is the second IIO investigation of RCMP in a matter of days. Police shot a man on 135A Street in Whalley on August 14.


Woman Killed in Crash During Police Pursuits Near Red Deer, Alberta (July 31, 2019)

A 24-year-old woman was killed in a car crash following multiple pursuits by RCMP near Red Deer, Alberta on July 31, 2019. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating. According to ASIRT, police were called at about 12:35 PM in response to reports of gunshots in the town of Blackfalds, about 15 kilometers north of Red Deer. Locating a described vehicle, police allegedly made at least three attempts to pursue it before it was struck by a pickup truck eastbound on Highway 11. The truck driver was treated on the scene for minor injuries. The 24-year-old woman passenger in the Mustang was taken to Red Deer Regional Hospital, where she later died. The drive of the pursued vehicle, a 27-year-old man, was airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton, where he is in stable condition, according to ASIRT.


Two Die Following Police Pursuit Near Ottawa (July 7, 2019)

Two people, a 36-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman have been killed in a six-car crash following a police pursuit on July 7, 2019 on Highway 417 near Ottawa. Officers of the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) had initiated pursuit of a vehicle driven by the 36-year-old victim.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario) reports that the crash incident was initiated with a call from a man reporting that his daughter had been abused by a family friend at a Kanata hotel. This means the identity of the alleged suspect was known and under Ontario rules a police pursuit should not have been undertaken (where a suspect’s identity is known).

The SIU has designated one Ottawa police officer as the subject of its investigation, and also identified three other “witness officers,” two of whom are OPP officers. The agency assigned three investigators, two forensic specialists, and a collision reconstruction expert to its investigation team.

According to Ottawa defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, the main job for the SIU is to determine why the pursuit was launched given the identity of the suspect was known to police. While rules govern when a suspect should be pursued, Greenspon notes that too often those regulations are not followed. He outlines the too regular script followed by police:

“Every time there’s a crash like this it’s the same story: ‘We started the pursuit and it was stopped before the fatal collision took place.’ The big question here that needs to be answered is: Why were they chasing him in the first place? If they knew his identity, why start chasing him?” (quoted in Duffy, Yogaretnam, Gillis, and Miller 2019).

In Ottawa, the police service’s policy “requires that officers only engage in a pursuit if they believe a crime has been committed and if there’s no alternative for apprehending a suspect who poses a threat to public safety” (Duffy, Yogaretnam, Gillis, and Miller 2019).

 

Further Reading

Duffy, Andrew, Shaamini Yogaretnam, Megan Gillis, and Jacquie Miller. 2019. “Updated — Highway 417 Crash: Vehicle Pursuit Stemmed from Sexual Assault Investigation.” Ottawa Citizen July 9. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/multi-vehicle-crash-closes-westbound-highway-417-at-panmure-road