Category Archives: Indigenous Victims

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.

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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.


Inquests into Separate Police Killings of Indigenous Men Adrian Lacquette (23) and Evan Grant Caron (33) in Manitoba

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, two inquests were called into separate police killings of civilians in Manitoba which happened within a week and a half of each other in September 2017. The chief medical examiner in Manitoba has called an inquest into the police shooting and killing of 23-year-old Adrian Lacquette of Winnipeg on September 13. Manitoba Justice announced a separate inquest into the shootings and killings of 33-year-old Evan Grant Caron, who was fatally shot by police 10 days after the shooting of Adrian Lacquette.

Both victims were Indigenous men. This fact is reflective of the colonial and racist violence of policing in Manitoba (and Canada more broadly). At least 11 of the known 19 people killed by police in Manitoba between 2000 and 2017 were identified as Indigenous.

The inquests cannot assign blame or lead to arrests and police are under no obligation to follow any recommendations that might result from either inquest.


Pressing Questions as Inquest into Police-Involved Death of Indigenous Man Jordan Lafond is Postponed to June

There are many unanswered questions about the role Saskatoon police played in the death of 21-year-old Jordan Lafond of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. An inquest into the death that was scheduled to take begin March 5, 2018, and which family hoped would provide some answers, has now been postponed until June 25.

The questions surrounding Lafond’s death are more pressing given that police initially suggested the injuries that led to Lafond’s death were inflicted in a vehicular crash and did not report that an officer used his knee to subdue the young man when he was handcuffed.

It has been reported publicly that Jordan Lafond died after the stolen truck he was a passenger in crashed into a fence on the outskirts of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the early morning hours of October 23, 2016. Lafond was taken into custody and later died in hospital. Police have not been forthcoming on their role in Lafond’s death and what they did to him during the arrest.

A six-person jury, five women and one-man, was selected on Monday. Four of the jurors are Indigenous. Three were selected from a special jury pool of Indigenous people and one who self-identified. The request for Indigenous jurors can be made at inquests but not for criminal trials, an issue that has received great attention following the recent not guilty verdicts in the killings of Indigenous youth Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. The inquest is strictly a fact finding exercise and cannot assign blame or lead to charges being laid.

Grace Lafond-Barr, Jordan’s grandmother expressed the family’s grief: “Emotions have been up and down. A lot of tears, a lot of anger, a lot of sadness. Because we don’t know what happened to Jordan” (quoted in Hamilton 2018). She noted that police were not honest in reporting their actions during Jordan Lafond’s arrest. In her words: “We didn’t hear the truth when we were told of Jordan’s injuries. It would be nice to know what happened to him” (quoted in Hamilton 2018).

Police changed their story about what happened a few weeks after Lafond died. They had initially claimed that Lafond was found underneath a tire of the truck that crashed and said at that time that he died of injuries resulting from that crash. Then-police Chief Clive Weighill alleged that officers believed Lafond was resisting arrest and acknowledged that an officer used his knee to subdue Lafond and that he was handcuffed. Police have not admitted what part that might have played in the death.

Police even had to downgrade the initial charge of dangerous driving causing death laid against the driver of the stolen truck. Said the Crown prosecutor at the time: “We weren’t in a position to prove that the accident—or the collision, in this case—caused the death” (quoted in Hamilton 2018).

Saskatoon Police Service released a statement on March 5 saying that  they had carried out an internal investigation into Lafond’s death but would not release any details or results. There is no police oversight body, independent or otherwise, in Saskatchewan. The officer responsible is still on regular duties.

Jordan Lafond was a new father and worked at a roofing company to support her. Said Lafond-Barr: “Yes maybe he was in a stolen vehicle. But that doesn’t mean you should end his life over it. That’s what I said. I would like to bring some humanity to this (quoted in Hamilton 2018).

Anyone following events in Saskatchewan will note that young Indigenous men have been killed in that province for as little as stepping foot on a farm claimed by a white settler, with the settler farmer getting off despite admitting to the killing. So being killed by police for being in a stolen vehicle would not be unlikely in that context. And the officer involved will likely not even be charged. Jordan Lafond was the same age as Colten Boushie.

 

Further Reading

Hamilton, Charles. 2018. “’Everyone is Disappointed’: Inquest into Death of Jordan Lafond Postponed Until June.” CBC News March 5. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/family-hoping-for-answers-as-inquest-in-jordan-lafond-s-death-begins-1.4559159