Category Archives: Killings by Cops

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

Advertisements

Confirmed: RCMP Killed Both Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson in Surrey, BC, in March

Many questions have been unanswered since two people, later identified as Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson, were killed during an alleged hostage taking and police standoff in Surrey, British Columbia on March 29, 2019. Foremost among these was whether RCMP officers actually fired the fatal shots, killing both people. Police have been notably silent on that question all the while putting out a public narrative that they used lethal force to save a hostage who was probably killed by the hostage taker. On May 2 the horrible answer finally came. The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) has publicly confirmed that both Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson were killed by multiple shots fired by the RCMP.

Initial reports suggested that both had been shot with Crosson dying at the scene and McEwan dying later in hospital. Police alleged that Crosson had taken McEwan hostage and implied that police violence was necessary to save the hostage.

When asked previously by reporters if he could say conclusively that a police bullet did not hit Nona McEwan, the Surrey Now-Leader reports that Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesperson Corporal Frank Jang replied:

“No, I mean that’s all part of the investigation that’s happening now. There will be updates coming forth from the IIO but all those details, the exact mechanism, entries, where the shots came from, that’s all going to be part of the investigation. I can’t comment further because it’s still ongoing.”

Police control the information flow when they kill in the Canadian context. In various cases when they kill, they frame reports of events to blame victims or suggest that police acted heroically under immediate threat. As in this case they suggest that a victim was killed by “a suspect” rather than by police.


Winnipeg Police Shoot and Kill Machuar Mawien Madut: South Sudanese Migrant in Mental Health Crisis (Feb. 23, 2019)

Winnipeg police shot and killed Machuar Mawien Madut, a 43-year-old South Sudanese migrant whom community members have said was struggling with mental health issues due to separation from his family. The Council of South Sudanese Community of Manitoba identified Madut as the victim shot by police on Saturday, February 23, 2019.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, reports that police were called to 82 Colony Street at 9:43 AM regarding a man armed with a hammer potentially breaking into a suite. Madut was shot by police and taken to Health Sciences Centre where he later died.

Sandy Deng, a member of the community, rejects the police explanation of the killing. In her words:

“It breaks my heart. This is a typical stereotype for a lot of people who come from marginalized communities, because there’s always a justification for a shooting. He was a human being. He was supposed to be supported. He was one day away from seeing his mental health specialist, and instead of mobile crisis being called, the police were called.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

Madut and his family fled war in Sudan, coming to Canada in 2003. He had four children who moved to British Columbia with his wife after the couple separated a couple of years ago and Madut had struggled with mental health since then.

Deng described him as a very kind man:

“He came to the community here all the time to hang out, he never really bothered anybody. Apart from that, he had been living with a lot of challenges, including mental health, language barriers, adjustment to this new community.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

The Council of South Sudanese Community of Manitoba had been working with health services, including the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance Program, to help Madut with his mental health issues.

On Saturday, before he was shot by police, Madut had been moving furniture out of his apartment for as yet unknown reasons. A cousin, Ayei Madut, said the man had been dealing with a broken door in his apartment.

Ayei Madut also questions why police responded , and so immediately, with lethal force. In his words:

“I’m really not trusting the police, because we assume they have all the resource how to deal with people with mental issues, with different background. For me I can’t even trust them because this situation, I could do it better than whatever they did.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

Alexa Potashnik, president of Black Space Winnipeg, also directed skepticism toward Winnipeg police. As she notes: “This just unfortunately is a reminder that police brutality and violence happens in all areas across our country and we need answers” (quoted in CBC News 2019).

She adds that violence against Black people by police must be addressed in Winnipeg. In her view:

“There’s no justice or accountability from the Winnipeg police department and this is unacceptable and it’s an inexcusable act of violence toward the South Sudanese community, toward the black community. We’re not going to take this lying down and we’re going to show up and demand justice for our community.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

The killing by police of a Black man and man experiencing mental health distress highlights ongoing issues of police violence and use of lethal force in Canada.

The Council of South Sudanese Community of Manitoba will hold a rally outside police headquarters on March 1 to demand answers “and shed light into the gaps that we have in mental health services and how police officers might not be well-equipped to deal with people with mental health issues and language barriers” (quoted in CBC News 2019).

Machuar Mawien Madut is the third person shot by Winnipeg police already in 2019.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “’It’s Devastating’: South Sudanese Condemn Fatal Police Shooting of Man with Mental Health Issues.” CBC News. February 25. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/man-shot-police-south-sudanese-community-1.5032314


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


Ottawa Police Shoot and Kill 30-Year-Old-Man at Elmvale Mall (Jan. 31, 2019)

Ottawa police shot and killed a 30-year-old man early in the morning of January 31, 2019. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, police were called to the area of the Elmvale Mall on St. Laurent Blvd at around 7:53 AM. The reason for the call was allegedly a report of “a suspicious person.” At the time of this initial report, no details have been released publicly on what made the person suspicious. At around 8:00 AM shots were fired, and the victim was killed. The SIU has confirmed that a police officer shot the victim.


Two Dead in Crash During Attempted Police Stop, Nanaimo (Jan. 14, 2019)

Two people are dead in a crash following an attempted vehicular stop by Nanaimo RCMP. The crash occurred on the Trans-Canada Highway near Duke Point on the morning of January 14, 2019. The Nanaimo RCMP officer tried to pull over a white pickup which then crashed into a red SUV. According to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm in British Columbia, the RCMP turned on the marked patrol car’s lights and sirens in an attempt to pull over the truck at around 12:40 AM.

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed that two people are dead as a result of the crash. Their identities have not been released. It has been reported publicly that the two people killed were the lone male drivers of each vehicle. It has also been reported that the driver of the red SUV was in his fifties.

According to Ron MacDonald of the IIO, the investigation will attempt to address several questions:

“That will include, were lights and sirens engaged? How long were they engaged for if they were? [What were the] speeds involved, distance and time involved? Was the attempt to stop the vehicle terminated at some point? If so, when did that occur in relation to the collision?” (quoted in DeRosa 2019)

MacDonald has also said that it is too early to say with certainty where the officer tried to pull over the truck. According to MacDonald: “How far apart the officer was from the vehicle at the time of the collision is, of course, an important factor for us to consider” (DeRosa 2019).

Police officers are not compelled to provide statements to the IIO. This has been an issue in previous IIO investigations and led the agency to sue the Vancouver Police Department to gain some cooperation in an investigation.

MacDonald has already said that gaining crucial information in this case is “going to be difficult without witness testimony” (DeRosa 2019). No details have been provided regarding why the officer targeted the white truck or why there was an attempt to pull it over.

Further Reading
DeRosa, Katie. 2019. “Police Watchdog Probes Head-On Crash that Killed Two Near Duke Point.” Times Colonist January 14. https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/police-watchdog-probes-head-on-crash-that-killed-two-near-duke-point-1.23598207


Winnipeg Police Shoot and Kill 26-Year-Old Chad Williams (Jan. 11, 2019)

Winnipeg police shot and killed a young man later identified as 26-year-old Chad Williams during the evening of January 11, 2019 in the city’s West End. Winnipeg police claim that at around 7:50 PM officers encountered a man near Sargent Avenue and Maryland Street who they say was acting suspiciously. The man allegedly fled that area, and officers encountered him again in a nearby vacant lot, where they shot him. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, where he later died. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) of Manitoba is investigating the killing.

The killing of Chad Williams was the second officer-involved shooting for the Winnipeg police within a period of 48 hours. On the evening of Wednesday, January 9, a 23-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound after police officers opened fire on a car at the intersection of Panet Road and Nairn Avenue. The victim in that shooting was injured and taken to hospital but survived.