Category Archives: Indigenous Victims

Manitoba First Nations Police Kill Benjamin Richard (23) on Long Plain First Nation (April 2, 2019)

Manitoba First Nations Police shot and killed 23-year-old Benjamin Richard on Long Plain First Nation on the evening of April 2, 2019. The victim’s identity was confirmed publicly by his sister Patricia Richard. She reports that she called police after speaking with her mother because she believed her brother to be ‘freaking out’ and shooting out of the house where her mother lives.

Patricia Richard had hoped police would protect her brother, not shoot him. She is upset at how police handled the situation, believing it could have and should have ended differently.

She has since said that her mother told her: “They went rushing in there. Everything happened too quick. She said they didn’t have to [shoot him]. He wasn’t threatening anyone, he just snapped on himself” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

The victim’s niece, Tammy Smith, said she was outside the house in a pickup truck with Richard’s mother when three officers spotted Richard through a window and started shooting at him. She describes a chaotic, reckless, rush to lethal force. In her words: “I was backing up to see if I could see Ben, when all the shots came from the (police). I’m pretty sure they all unloaded their clips. We just started screaming” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

She echoed the family’s feelings of anger over how the situation was handled: “It should not have escalated to that point. They should have waited for more people. They should have tried to wait it out. They were all outside, shooting through the walls and windows. They never even entered the house…” (quoted in Rollason 2019)

Witnesses suggest that the victim was only firing his weapon into an empty field and the ceiling of the house. They say he posed no threat to anyone, but was simply upset. She relates: “His mother, last week, called the [police] to take him to the hospital so he could be assessed. But when they came and talked to him, they said he wasn’t a threat to anyone. Then a week later, they come back and shoot him” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Patricia Richard has said that in her view the officers were “trigger-happy.” She suggests: “They knew my brother needed help a few days before anything happened. He was unstable. Everyone saw the signs” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

And she concludes: “I believe what happened could have been 100 per cent preventable” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Smith remembers Benjamin Richard in these terms: “He was kind, caring and always thinking of others more than himself. The world lost a great man. My heart breaks” (quoted in Macdonnell 2019).

According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Manitoba, it was notified by Manitoba First Nations Police that officers had responded to a report of a man armed with a firearm in a residence at around 6 PM. During an encounter at least one office fired a weapon, striking the man. The victim, Benjamin Richard was pronounced dead on the scene. Three officers involved in the case are now on administrative leave.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “Man Shot Dead by First Nations Police Force in Manitoba, Family Says.” CBC News April 3. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-first-nations-police-long-plain-1.5082537

Macdonnell, Beth. 2019. “Man Dead after Officer-Involved Shooting on Long Plain First Nation.” CTV News April 3. https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/man-dead-after-officer-involved-shooting-on-long-plain-first-nation-1.4363800

Rollason, Kevin. 2019. “Officers Called ‘Trigger-Happy.’” Winnipeg Free Press April 4. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/officers-called-trigger-happy-508094702.html

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Killer Ottawa Cops Identified as Thanh Tran and Daniel Vincelette: Shot Greg Ritchie of Saugeen First Nation

Greg Ritchie, a 30-year-old Ojibwe man from Saugeen First Nation near Owen Sound, Ontario, has been identified as the man shot and killed by Ottawa police on January 31. Family members have spoken publicly to say he was experiencing mental health crises and was heading to a pharmacy to pick up medication when he was shot and killed by police. The responding officers have been identified as Ottawa constables Thanh Tran and Daniel Vincelette. Witnesses have reported hearing more than two shots. Tran is a repeat offender. He and another officer had been charged, in September 2011, with assault causing bodily harm following the arrest of an intoxicated 50-year-old homeless man.

Family members say Ritchie, who had been taken from his mother and placed in foster care, had struggled with mental health issues from a young age. He had moved to Ottawa to live with his brother and his partner. Ritchie’s sister-in-law reports that he was in good spirits the morning he was killed, having received his Ontario Disability Support Program payment and going out for a coffee. He then set out to get his medication, suffering a headache and recovering from a concussion. He had been a customer at the pharmacy at Elmvale Acres Mall since arriving in Ottawa.

Police allegedly received a call about a “suspicious incident.” This is a painfully poignant description given that Ritchie’s family says he had an ongoing fear that people viewed him suspiciously because of the way he looked and because of his Indigenous identity.

In the words of his sister-in-law, Chantel Ritchie:

“And the thing is, that’s not the kind of guy he is. He gets scared…and that’s the saddest part. We know that he was in complete and utter terror in a moment like that. He’s scared of just going into a grocery store…of just being in a crowd, because he’s afraid that people want to do something to him or don’t like him because of the way he looks.

“And honestly, we’ve seen it. People just take one look and that’s it. He’s First Nations, he’s been homeless before, and he is afraid. People just take all of that in one look and then make assumptions and then act on it. And it just really hurts that we weren’t there to be able to calm him down because there’s no way that any of this would have happened if we were there. There’s no way.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

Chantal Ritchie says Greg Ritchie felt better around family and was very involved in learning about his culture. She worries that cultural materials he carried with him might have been misinterpreted as weapons by the police who killed him. In her words:

“I could tell right away he suffered from mental illness, but when he was around family he was very happy. He was very into his culture and learning about his ancestors. He did sometimes exhibit that he feels the pain of what happened to his people…but he was just happy to be around family and to be at powwows and helping at those events.

“He was sometimes hired to keep sacred fires going at ceremonies, and spent time in woods and rivers looking for arrowheads. It also comforted him to recreate arrowheads and other artifacts.

“Those things he keeps on his person because it makes him feel safe. We always tell him, don’t bring it with you anywhere, because we were afraid of this very thing happening.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

One witness, Shireen Moodley, reports hearing multiple rapid-fire gunshots

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “Greg Ritchie ID’d as Man Shot and KIlled by Police at Mall.” CBC News. February 1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-fatal-police-shooting-family-1.5000285


Cops Investigating Cops: Calgary Police Services Investigate Death of 22-Year-Old Kugluktuk Man in Custody of Nunavut RCMP (Sept. 19, 2018)

The Calgary Police Services are investigating the death of a 22-year-old Kugluktuk resident while in custody of the Nunavut RCMP on September 19, 2018. The victim was reportedly medivacked from Kugluktuk to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife, where he died. Nunavut RCMP have not provided any details about the circumstances of the death, or why the victim was medivacked, but have stated that the incident triggered the force to “engage the RCMP’s External Investigations or Review Policy.”

Inspector Keith Cain, of the Calgary Police Services, reports that four detectives and two members of the Calgary Police Services crime scenes unit were in Kugluktuk the last week of September to do an investigation. They had attended the autopsy in Edmonton.

The investigating officers will compile a report of the incident and give it to a Crown prosecutor, who will decide whether to press charges. It is expected the police “investigation” will take a month and the Crown will review the report over the course of an additional month.  Nunavut’s deputy coroner, Khen Sagadraca, reports that the office is conducting its own “preliminary investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the death.

This is a blatant case of police investigating police and we can expect nothing in the way of justice to come from it. Incredibly, and speaking to the reliability of police in such cases, the Nunavut RCMP did not issue a news release about the in-custody death when it happened. They have since refused to answer questions about this failure to report. Perhaps they needed more time to concoct a story or reconstruct a crime scene.


Kativik Regional Police (KRPF) Shoot and Kill 40-Year-Old Man in Inukjuak, Quebec (Sept. 5, 2018)

Kativik Regional Police (KRPF) shot and killed a 40-year-old man during an overnight standoff in Inukjuak, a town of around 1,800 people on Hudson Bay in Quebec’s Inuit territory of Nunavik. ​The Quebec Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (Bureau of Independent Investigations, BEI) is investigating.

According to the BEI, the police encounter with the man began when someone allegedly fired a long gun several times outside a residence around 8:30 PM, Tuesday, September 4. Officers with the Sûreté du Québec and Kativik Regional Police (KRPF) were sent to the scene of the alleged incident. The BEI says that three people in the house eventually left as police negotiated with the man.

Around 11:10 AM, on the morning of September 5, a KRPF officer shot and killed the man. No other details have been released and the claims of police have not been independently confirmed publicly.

The BEI is not an independent oversight agency. It relies on the participation of active police officers from other forces in carrying out its investigations. Six BEI investigators, as well as two Montreal police investigators, have been assigned to examine this killing.


Sterling Ross Cardinal, Calling Lake Indigenous Man, Identified as Victim of Edmonton Police

The person shot and killed by Edmonton police on August 18, 2018, has been identified as 29-year-old Sterling Ross Cardinal, an Indigenous man from Calling Lake who was a father of three, including a two-month-old baby boy.

Said Jocelyn Coutrie, the month of the infant boy, said of Cardinal in a facebook post: “He always had a smile on his face. And he will be missed very much by me and his family. It hurts to think that he’s never coming home to me and our baby boy.”

Cardinal’s sister, Angelina Merkle, said he loved his family> In her words: “Regardless of who anyone is involved with and chooses to allow in their life, [it] doesn’t mean they are bad people. Life is not fair most times. Nobody is perfect. We, the family, lost a good, respected person. That will be sadly missed” (quoted in Ross 2018).

Another man, Clifford Johnathan Gladue (29), who was with Cardinal, was arrested by Edmonton police.

 

Further Reading

Ross, Andrea. 2018. “Man Shot and Killed by Edmonton Police Fired Rifle at Officers, Sources Say.” CBC News August 23. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/sterling-cardinal-police-shooting-1.4793590

 


Civil Suit against Killer Cop Michelle Phillips, RCMP, and Federal Government in Killing of Tracy Janvier

Killer cops in Canada rarely face consequences for their actions in Canada. Families of victims are often forced to sue to gain information about the killing of their loved ones or to see police who kill face some process of accountability.

On August 14, 2018, the family of Tracy Janvier (41) launched a civil lawsuit against RCMP Constable Michelle Phillips, the RCMP, and the federal government in the 2016 killing of their loved one. Janvier was run over and killed by Phillips on Alberta Highway 881, about 80 kilometers south of Fort McMurray on August 21, 2016. The suit,  seeking $909,000, claims that Phillips was negligent and speeding, driving recklessly and carelessly when she struck and killed Tracy Janvier. Phillips also struck and injured a 71-year-old man.

Constable Phillips has been charged in the killing. In August 2017 she pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. A preliminary hearing was held in June and a trial has been scheduled for April 2019.


Alberta RCMP Kill Man at Frog Lake First Nation (July 20, 2018)

Alberta RCMP shot and killed a man at the  Frog Lake First Nation on July 20, 2018. Frog Lake First Nation reserve is located 250 kilometers east of Edmonton. Initial reports claim that Elk Point RCMP attempted to arrest a man at a home on the reserve around 10 AM. There was allegedly a standoff over several hours, at the end of which RCMP officers discharged their firearms striking and killing a man at the home. The RCMP are the historic military force of colonialism in Canada.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Alberta, is investigating the killing and police actions. None of the initial reports have been independently confirmed publicly.