Category Archives: Inquests

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.

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Killer Cop Frédéric Fortier Made Critical Mistakes in Killing of Brandon Maurice: Policing Expert

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officer who killed 17-year-old Brandon Maurice has been identified as Constable Frédéric Fortier during the coroner’s inquest into the 2015 killing. An expert in police “use of force” strategies testified at the inquest that the provincial police officer made a number of critical mistakes. A witness to the killing, Chris Houle, who was in the car with Maurice when the teenager was shot has already testified that the shooting “should have been avoided.”

Constable Frédéric Fortier shot the unarmed Maurice at the end of a police chase through Messines, Québec. He and his partner, Constable Dave Constantin, were cleared of criminal wrong doing after an investigation, that was in no way independent and involved Montreal police in 2016.

The inquest has focused on how Fortier approached the car Maurice was driving at the end of a police pursuit. He approached aggressively with his gun drawn and decided to smash the driver’s-side window to open the car door.

Bruno Poulin, an expert with Quebec’s police academy, so not oppositional to police in any way, testified that the encounter should never have ended with that decision. According to Poulin, the officer narrowed his options by approaching the car overly aggressively and expecting he could physically force the driver from the car. A typical thug approach by police who expect they can impose their authority without question and, if necessary, kill to deal with any mess they create.

In Poulin’s words to the inquest: “He put himself in danger” (quoted in 2018). Poulin said it appears that SQ officers need some retraining. We know that training does nothing to change the power police hold in society and the fact that they can kill with impunity as part of the state’s assertion of its monopoly on violence.

In testimony the previous day Fortier acknowledged that he had gotten himself into trouble but said he would not change his decision to shoot.

Brandon Maurice’s family are considering civil action against the police.

 

Further Reading

Pfeffer, Amanda. 2018. “Expert Witness at Coroner’s Inquest Says Officer Who Shot Teen Made Mistakes.” CBC News. April 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/brandon-maurice-death-inquest-1.4617234


Witness to Police Killing of Brandon Maurice (17) Says it “Should Have Been Avoided”

Chris Houle, the person who directly witnessed the police shooting of 17-year-old Brandon Maurice told a coroner’s inquest that it should never have happened. Houle saw the entire interaction from the passenger seat of Maurice’s car. A Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Quebec provincial police, officer shot Maurice as the teen sat in the vehicle’s driver’s seat in the early morning hours of November 16, 2015. The Inquest started in April, 2018.

Said Houle, during his testimony before chief coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier on April 10: “I may not know a lot about law and police processes; I’m not an expert. But this should have been avoided” (quoted in Pfeffer 2018). The young witness testified over a day and a half.

The killing occurred after a police chase ended about 10 kilometers at chemin de la Ferme and rue Patry, close to Lac Blue Sea in the municipality of Messines, Quebec. Houle testified that he and Maurice sat in the car as an officer approached the driver’s side with his gun drawn. At some point the officer smashed the window and reached into the car. Some type of struggle ensued over the opening of the car door. The officer fired his gun at Maurice shooting the teenager at point-blank range.

Brandon Maurice died in hospital. The pathologist who carried out the autopsy testified at the inquest that Maurice died from a fatal bullet wound through this neck.

Family and friends of Maurice have long insisted that police used excessive force during the encounter and have demanded answers about what happened that day and why police acted the way they did. The officer responsible was not charged for the killing, a typical and in no way surprising outcome when police kill civilians in Canada. The state protects the state.

There is no investigation of police in Quebec that could in any way be considered independent or autonomous. Incredibly Montreal police were asked by Quebec’s police “watchdog,” Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), to conduct an investigation after the killiing. This is not independence. Not surprisingly that “investigation” decided not to charge the officer. In fact the Montreal investigators were allowed to testify at the inquest.

 

Further Reading

Pfeffer, Amanda. 2018. “Police Shooting Witness Tells Inquest Teen’s Death “Should Have Been Avoided.” CBC News. April 10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/brandon-maurice-inquest-tuesday-1.4613032


Fatality Inquiry into Killing of Annie Walden (84) by Constable Chris Luimes Makes Recommendations

On March 8, 2012, killer cop Constable Chris Luimes crashed into a car driven by 84-year-old Annie Waldren while speeding to a non-emergency call, killing the Edmonton woman. Luimes was driving at almost 120 kilometers per hour at the time of the collision.

On April 9, 2018, a fatality inquiry into the killing, under provincial court judge Carrie Sharpe, released its recommendations. They call for longer probation periods for new police officers in Alberta. The inquiry suggests that police agencies should institute a probationary period of three months, six months, and one year to evaluate the driving habits of new recruits on an ongoing basis. It also called for removal of any officer where performance or safety concerns are identified by supervisors.

After the killing, Luimes was charged with dangerous driving causing death but a judge decided there was not enough evidence to convict him. The state protects the state in such cases. At a disciplinary hearing Luimes was found guilty of discreditable conduct in the crash. Edmonton police Superintendent Brad Doucette and the investigating officer for the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) were the only witnesses to testify at the inquiry on March 14, 2017. As a result an inquiry scheduled for two days was completed in fewer than three hours.

Killer cop Luimes is still employed by the Edmonton Police Service but longer works on the streets. The state protects the state and killer cops maintain their employment.


Inquest into Killing of Michael David Perrault by Edmonton Constable Wayne Haltli Concludes

Michael David Perrault (31) was shot and killed by Edmonton Police Constable Wayne Haltli on May 18, 2015, during a traffic stop. A fatality inquiry that wrapped up over the last week of February 2018 made several recommendations focusing on the need to make crisis intervention and de-escalation training mandatory for police officers in Alberta. It was also recommended that Edmonton police pursue the “zero death” mandate arising from the inquiry into the killing of Sammy Yatim by Toronto police officer James Forcillo. Police are not required to adopt any of the recommendations and as is typically the case in such circumstances in Canada they will not do so here.

The inquiry reported that Michael David Perreault was in mental health crisis at the time police encountered and killed him. The inquiry also reported he had a long history of mental health issues and substance use troubles which may have been exacerbated by the health care system and doctors. He had been prescribed medications for a range of issues including depression and chronic pain from a number of accidents and workplace injuries.

Constable Haltli and his partner, Constable Jeffrey Park, were members of Edmonton’s Specialized Traffic Apprehension Team (STAT) when they responded to a 911 report of a suspected impaired driver in the city’s Beverly neighbourhood. Perreault’s car had stopped in the curb lane on Victoria Trail near 118 Avenue when the constables approached it. Constable Park reportedly reached into the car to try to take the keys out of the ignition when Perreault allegedly grabbed his arm. Park punched Perreault in the head several times during the encounter. It is alleged that at some point Perrault retrieved a shotgun and managed to shoot Park in the leg. It is claimed that he excited the vehicle when he was shot in the head and killed by Constable Haltli.

An investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, had already cleared the officers. ASIRT found, not surprisingly given their history,  that the officers used reasonable force. No further word on whether punching someone repeatedly in the head over a traffic stop is reasonable force. Or a reasonable way to treat someone in distress.

Notably, Perrault had been targeted numerous times by Edmonton police officers and, perhaps quite justifiably, felt “cops hated him” and had singled him out for scrutiny, according to the inquiry report. The day of his killing he was apparently concerned that police were outside his home.


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

 


Dates Scheduled for Coroner’s Inquest into Killing of Brandon Maurice (17) by Provincial Sûreté du Québec

On January 23, 2018, it was announced that the public coroner’s inquest into the killing of 17-year-old Brandon Maurice by Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers in the Outouais will be held over the period of April 9-13, 2018. Maurice was shot and killed by SQ officers following a police vehicular pursuit on November 16, 2015. The inquest was initially planned to be held in the fall of 2017.

The inquest will be held at the Palais de Justice in Gatineau. It will be overseen by deputy chief coroner Luc Balouin. Among those now named as being called for testimony are Dave Constantin and Frédérick Fortier of the Sûreté du Québec and Detective-Sergeant Mélanie Simard of the Montréal Police Service, which oversaw an investigation (by no means independent) into the killing.