Category Archives: Ottawa

Two Die Following Police Pursuit Near Ottawa (July 7, 2019)

Two people, a 36-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman have been killed in a six-car crash following a police pursuit on July 7, 2019 on Highway 417 near Ottawa. Officers of the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) had initiated pursuit of a vehicle driven by the 36-year-old victim.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario) reports that the crash incident was initiated with a call from a man reporting that his daughter had been abused by a family friend at a Kanata hotel. This means the identity of the alleged suspect was known and under Ontario rules a police pursuit should not have been undertaken (where a suspect’s identity is known).

The SIU has designated one Ottawa police officer as the subject of its investigation, and also identified three other “witness officers,” two of whom are OPP officers. The agency assigned three investigators, two forensic specialists, and a collision reconstruction expert to its investigation team.

According to Ottawa defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, the main job for the SIU is to determine why the pursuit was launched given the identity of the suspect was known to police. While rules govern when a suspect should be pursued, Greenspon notes that too often those regulations are not followed. He outlines the too regular script followed by police:

“Every time there’s a crash like this it’s the same story: ‘We started the pursuit and it was stopped before the fatal collision took place.’ The big question here that needs to be answered is: Why were they chasing him in the first place? If they knew his identity, why start chasing him?” (quoted in Duffy, Yogaretnam, Gillis, and Miller 2019).

In Ottawa, the police service’s policy “requires that officers only engage in a pursuit if they believe a crime has been committed and if there’s no alternative for apprehending a suspect who poses a threat to public safety” (Duffy, Yogaretnam, Gillis, and Miller 2019).

 

Further Reading

Duffy, Andrew, Shaamini Yogaretnam, Megan Gillis, and Jacquie Miller. 2019. “Updated — Highway 417 Crash: Vehicle Pursuit Stemmed from Sexual Assault Investigation.” Ottawa Citizen July 9. https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/multi-vehicle-crash-closes-westbound-highway-417-at-panmure-road


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.


Ottawa Constable Aaron Reichert Identified as Killer Cop Who Shot Raymond Alliman in June 2017

The Ottawa police tactical officer who shot and killed Raymond Alliman (31) in the morning of June 3, 2017 has been identified as Constable Aaron Reichert. Reichert fired nine shots at Alliman, hitting the man in the head and killing him, in a parking garage after pursuing Alliman from the city’s Byward Market. Alliman was suspected of shooting two men and killing one.

In May, 2018, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, cleared Reichert of any wrongdoing in the killing of Raymond Alliman. The SIU reported that only 76 seconds passed from Reichert’s first radio dispatch saying he thought he had heard a gunshot (with no suspect identified) to the constable telling dispatch about a second shooting. The SIU report suggests that Alliman had opportunities to fire at Reichert but did not. Alliman was pronounced dead at the scene.


Man Shot and Killed by Ottawa Police (Feb. 25, 2018)

A man was shot and killed by officers of the Ottawa Police Service late Sunday evening, February 25, 2018. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, the man was fatally shot near a grocery store west of the city’s downtown. At least five Ottawa Police Service vehicles were reported seen in the parking lot of the Metro grocery store at the intersection of Wellington Street West and Carleton Avenue. The SIU confirmed near 10 PM that someone had been killed in an interaction with police. People in the area reported hearing three gunshots. It has also been reported that there was a stabbing, or stabbings, as the grocery store. No further details have yet been provided.


Police-Involved Deaths in Canada in 2017: What Little We Know

There is no formal, systematic process for documenting and recording the deaths of civilians through encounters with police in Canada. There is no systematic reporting publicly of civilian deaths through police encounters. A baseline or minimum number of people who died through police encounters can be arrived at by review of oversight agency reports, coroners inquest reports, and close following of media articles. Here is some of the very limited information of what we know about 65 reported deaths. Much more needs to be known and should be made public.

 

  1. Amleset Haile. Female. 60. January 2. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Self-inflicted. (Black woman).
  2. Jimmy Cloutier. Male. 38. January 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot.
  3. Ralph Stevens. Male. 27. January 7. Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
  4. Nadia Racine. Female. 34. January 25. Gatineau, Quebec. Gatineau Police. In-custody.
  5. Male. 20. February 11. Goodfare, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
  6. Male. No Age Given. February 12. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. In-custody.
  7. Moses Amik Beaver. Male. 56. February 13. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous Man).
  8. Female. 20. March 6. Burlington, Ontario. Halton Regional Police Service.
  9. Male. 28. March 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Heart attack.
  10. Vitaly Savin. Male. 55. March 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
  11. Male. 20. March 18. Pond Inlet. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
  12. Male. March 24. 61. Chateauguay, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec.
  13. Male. 40. April 1. Kelowna, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  14. Male. 24. April 28. Puvirnituq, Quebec. Kativik Regional Police Force. In-custody.
  15. Male. 39. May 2. Hall Beach. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
  16. Male. 32. May 13. Fort McMurray, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
  17. Male. 41. May 15. Beauceville, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  18. Male. 26. May 22. Cambridge, Ontario.
  19. Female. No Age Given. May 27. Oak Bay, British Columbia. Victoria Police.
  20. Male. 43. June 3. Smith Falls, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Self-inflicted.
  21. Male. 31. June 3. Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa Police Service. Shot.
  22. Male. No Age Given. June 18. Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot
  23. Austin Eaglechief. Male. 22. June 19. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Police. Shot.
  24. Pierre Coriolan. Male. 58. June 27. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot. (Black man).
  25. Male. No Age Given. July 3. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Vehicle chase.
  26. Male. No Age Given. July 5. Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. RCMP. Self-inflicted.
  27. Male. No Age Given. July 9. Quebec City, Quebec. Quebec City Police. Shot.
  28. Dale Culvner. Male. 35. July 18. Prince George, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  29. Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay. Male. 50. July 19. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous man).
  30. Shawn Davis. Male. 52. July 26. Chatham, Ontario. Chatham Police. “Sudden Death.”
  31. Male. 66. July 30. Pointe-Calumet, Quebec. Vehicle chase.
  32. Male. 25. August 10. Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  33. Female. 55. August 7. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
  34. Male. 23. August 20. La Sarre, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  35. Male. No Age Given. August 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. In-custody.
  36. Ozama Shaw. Male. 15. July 27. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Region Police. Shot. (Black youth).
  37. Male. 48. September 4. Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury Police. In-custody.
  38. Female. 26. September 4. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
  39. Unnamed Male. 26. September 6. Whitefish Lake First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot.
  40. Female. 46. September 9. Indian Head, Saskatchewan. RCMP. In-custody.
  41. Male. 29. September 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
  42. Adrian Lacquette. 23. September 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
  43. Male. 34. September 15. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
  44. Male. 33. September 23. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
  45. Sheila Walsh. Female. 65. September 25. Arnprior, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Vehicle chase.
  46. Female. No Age Given. October 2. Quesnel, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  47. Nathan Wehlre. Male. 15. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
  48. Taryn Hewitt. Female. 16. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
  49. Cody Severight. Male. 23. October 10. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Hit and run, officer DUI.
  50. Male. 35. October 12. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot.
  51. Cavin Poucette. Male. 26. October 19. Gleichen, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
  52. Brydon Bryce Whitstone. Male. 22. October 22. North Battleford, Saskatchewan. (Indigenous man).
  53. Tom Ryan. Male. 70. October 27. Cobourg, Ontario. Cobourg Police Service. Shot.
  54. Male. 44. October 31. Brampton, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. During arrest.
  55. Male. 23. November 8. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody.
  56. Bill Saunders. Male. 18. November 15. Lake Manitoba First Nation, Manitoba. Shot.
  57. Male. 57. November 26. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. In-custody.
  58. David Tshitoya Kalubi. Male. 23. November 24. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody. (Black youth).
  59. Male. 52. December 6. Douglas, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
  60. Male. 25. December 13. Maple, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Shot.
  61. Babak Saidi. Male. 43. December 23. Morrisburg, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
  62. Male. December 24. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
  63. Male. 22. December 28. Umiujaq, Quebec. Shot.
  64. Male. 36. December 28. Danford Lake, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot
  65. Male. No Age Given. December 30. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. Shot.

 

 


Provincial Police Kill Babak Saidi Inside Morrisburg Detachment, Release Few Details (Dec. 23, 2017)

Many disturbing questions remain after Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) shot and killed 43-year-old Babak Saidi inside the detachment in Morrisburg, Ontario on Saturday, December 23, 2017. Saidi, who experienced schizophrenia, was under conditions to check in weekly at the detachment following a 2014 conviction for assault and battery. He had been making those weekly check-ins regularly before something went deeply wrong during the December 23 check-in. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that investigates police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating. They have assigned seven investigators to the scene. Morrisburg is 80 milometers south of the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

Babak Saidi headed to the Saturday morning check-in with a tin full of freshly baked muffins, a Christmas gift for his father and a family friend who were providing his ride to the detachment. For family, the muffins were a sign that Babak Saidi was in a good mood. Hi sister, Elly Saidi remembers him fondly: “My brother, he was the kindest, sweetest, most loving person. He had a mental disability, and we need to know how to deal with a person with mental disability” (quoted in Pritchard 2017).

Few details have been released publicly regarding what happened at the detachment, but his sister has provided her father’s view of events as he experienced and witnessed them. Elly Saidi reports that, according to her father, the three were told to wait about 15 minutes when they arrived at the police station. They decided to go do some grocery shopping, and when they returned, Babak Saidi left the car to go inside. In very short order the father would see his son the ground, with two officers on top of him. Babak Saidi was taken into the detachment by officers and, according to the father, two shots were heard within two minutes. The SIU has confirmed that Babak Saidi was the person struck by the officer fired shots and that he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Oddly,  a police officer then told Saidi’s father and his friend to go to a nearby Tim Hortons and wait until someone arrived to explain what happened. After a few hours, police finally arrived to deliver an awful message in an apparently cold manner. According to Elly Saidi: “They waited for a few hours, and then the police came. My dad asked the police, ‘Where is my son?’ And the police officer told my dad that, sorry, your son is gone” (quoted in Pritchard 2017).

This was all the family was told about what happened, a full ten hours after the shooting. The family says this delay and the ongoing lack of information are “unacceptable.” They are, sadly, too common in cases of police killings of civilians in Canada.

In Elly Said’s words: “I have to be strong for my parents. It’s very hard to see my mom and my dad crying and being heartbroken. My mom was sitting in a corner of the room, hugging my brother’s picture. And all she’s saying is, ‘I don’t know what happened. I don’t know where his body is’” (quoted in Pritchard 2017). A worker with homeless youth in Ottawa, she says she needs to speak out because of the numerous cases of police violence, including lethal violence, inflicted on people with mental health issues in Canadian contexts. Reflecting on police in Canada, she says:

“They have absolutely no tools and no awareness to deal with people with mental disability. Too many people with mental disabilities have died at the hands of the police. They need to have education and awareness [of] how to deal with people with mental disability. And not [assume] they’re all bad and a menace to society.” (quoted in Pritchard 2017)

The SIU has reported that they will be interviewing the subject officer as well as 10 officers who were witnesses. One can only imagine how police witnesses to police killings will report events. There have been issues with timelines for interviewing police officers following police involved killings, with no assurances that officers will not compare and fix their stories.

 

Further Reading

Pritchard, Trevor. 2017. “Family Demands Answers After Fatal Shooting in Morrisburg, Ont. OPP Detachment.” CBC News. December 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/family-demands-answers-after-fatal-shooting-at-morrisburg-ont-opp-detachment-1.4463915