Category Archives: IIU

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

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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.


Winnipeg Police Kill 33-Year-Old Man (September 23, 2017)

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines police harm to civilians in Manitoba, is investigating the killing of a 33-year-old man in “The Maples” area of Winnipeg on the afternoon of September 23, 2017. Police claim they encountered a conflict when responding to a report of a stabbing. They say one officer was stabbed after police became involved. The 33-year-old victim was shot by an officer and taken to Health Sciences Centre but died. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. There have been three shootings of civilians by police in Winnipeg in the past three months alone.


Winnipeg Police Kill 23-Year-Old Adrian Lacquette (Sept. 13, 2017)

A Winnipeg mother is grieving and seeking answers after Winnipeg police shot and 23-year-old son, Adrian Lacquette in the early morning hours of September 13, 2017. Jo-Anne Malcolm says she found out about her son’s killing when representatives of the Independent Investigations Unit (IIU) came to her home around 6:00 AM. Malcolm recounts that interaction: “They said, ‘Do you know Adrian?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my son.’ I knew right away, I didn’t even ask. I said, ‘Is he dead?’ and they said, ‘Yeah. Sorry to tell you, ma’am. He was shot this morning” (quoted in Malone 2017). This is the ninth police shooting of a civilian in Manitoba since June 2015.

Police have claimed that a man, whom they would not name, was shot on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street in the city’s North End just before 1:00 AM Wednesday. Malcolm reports being told that the incident involved suspicion of a stolen car.

Clayton Campbell, who lives on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street, said that the incident happened very quickly. Police seemed to open fire shortly after encountering the victim. In his words: “It happened in a moment, a split moment. It was an eruption of gunfire” (quoted in Malone 2017).

Jo-Anne Malcolm wants to know what happened. In her words: “I want everybody to know that they shot my son for nothing, for a stolen car. I don’t think they should have shot him. My son is well-known to police, but they don’t have to treat him like that” (quoted in Malone 2017).

 

Further Reading

Malone, Kelly. 2017. “23-Year-Old Shot Dead By Winnipeg Police.” CBC News. September 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/north-end-police-serious-incident-1.4287071


IIU Finds Man Died in Custody After Winnipeg Police Use of Force

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Manitoba, has found that the death of a man in custody on August 13, 2017 occurred after police “used force” in arresting and processing him on August 9. The man had complained of sore ribs during processing and was taken to hospital. He was returned to the Winnipeg Remand Centre and held in custody but was again taken to hospital from remand two days later. He died in hospital. The death was only reported to the IIU on August 16, so there are some concerns about police transparency and collusion in this case.


RCMP Constable Abram Letkeman Faces Multiple Charges in Killing of Steven Campbell

It is among the rarest of occurrences for a police officer who kills someone, even under the most dubious of circumstances, to be charged with anything related to the killing. As documented at this site are virtually never charged, and more a range of administrative mechanisms (inquests, inquiries, oversight bodies, etc.) are mobilized to legitimize the cops’ deadly actions. So it is of some note when a killer cop is actually charged, even if the courts often dismiss the charges or find for the killers.

Manitoba RCMP Constable Abram Letkeman has been charged with manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, reckless discharge of a firearm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm is the shooting and killing of Steven Campbell (39), a father of two, in Thompson, Manitoba in 2015. Constable Letkeman was arrested March 1, 2017. Letkeman shot and killed Campbell following a police chase on November 21, 2015. Shots fired by the officer also hit the mother of Campbell daughter, resulting in serious injuries (Taylor 2017). There were two other passengers in the vehicle into which Letkeman fired.

The province’s Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), which examines harm done by police to civilians in Manitoba, investigated the circumstances surrounding the shooting and killing and determined that there were grounds to lay charges. The manslaughter charge is the most serious charge recommended by the IIU since it started its work in June of 2015, reinforcing the fact that police rarely face appropriate charges when they kill civilians. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office had called an inquest into Campbell’s death in August 2016.

The family has always viewed  the RCMP version of events as “ a joke” (Taylor 2017). From the perspective of Shannon Heck, Campbell’s younger sister, the manslaughter charges do not go far enough ad do not reflect the, in her view, murderous approach taken by Constable : “The officer is somebody who is supposed to be able to keep his calm and cool and for some reason or other he didn’t do that and he didn’t act appropriately. I don’t think charging him with manslaughter is appropriate” (quoted in Taylor 2017).

The RCMP claim that Steven Campbell was driving erratically when RCMP officers pulled him over. They also claim that as one officer approach the vehicle Campbell accelerated his vehicle and him. RCMP say it was only then that shots were fired. These claims have not been independently confirmed and the family says that Campbell did not accelerate and did not even hit any officer. A passenger in the vehicle says Letkeman slammed his police car into the vehicle Campbell was driving, stopping it. She also claims the officer fired nine times into the vehicle (Graham 2017). What has been confirmed is that Constable Abram Letkeman fired wildly into the vehicle hitting and killing Campbell and critically injuring his partner (Taylor 2017).

From the family’s understanding of events: “The story the RCMP was releasing, it was a joke as far as we were concerned. We knew something else had happened and we knew that the truth would come out” (Heck quoted in Taylor 2017). As Shannon Heck says, at the end of the day: “My brother will never be brought back” (quoted in Taylor 2017).

Letkeman, a seven-year veteran of the RCMP, had been deployed out of the Portage la Prairie, detachment. He has been released on bail with conditions to appear at Provincial Court in Thompson at 10 AM on March 31, 2017. He is still being paid as an officer of the RCMP as he has been since the killing in 2015.

 

Further Reading

Graham, Ian. 2017. “RCMP Officer who Shot Thompson Driver in 2015 Charged with Manslaughter.” Thompson Citizen. March 2. http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/news/thompson/rcmp-officer-who-shot-thompson-driver-in-2015-charged-with-manslaughter-1.10790535

Taylor, Jillian. 2017. “RCMP Officer Charged with Manslaughter in 2015 Thompson Shooting.” CBC News. March 2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/rcmp-officer-charged-fatal-2015-shooting-thompson-1.4006644

 


Investigation into Police Killing of Man in Winnipeg (February 12, 2017)

The Independent Investigations Unit (IIU), the oversight body that examines police killings of civilians in Manitoba, is investigating after police killed a man they had taken into custody in the evening of February 12, 2017. Winnipeg police officers attended a home in Garden City after supposedly receiving reports of a disturbance there in the late evening. One man in the house said he wanted another man removed from the residence and police took the other man into custody to remove him. According to police some type of struggle ensured and the prisoner was injured fatally. Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services was contacted and the victim was taken to Seven Oaks Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Independently confirmed details of the killing have not been released publicly. Neither has the name of the victim.