Category Archives: Oversight

Man Dies During Traffic Stop Near Whitehorse, Yukon (Oct. 22, 2019)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating after a man died from a fatal gunshot during a traffic stop on a highway south of Whitehorse, Yukon. Yukon RCMP claim they had been asked to check on the well-being of a 48-year-old man. They allegedly conducted a traffic stop after seeing the man driving on the highway but claim that they heard a shot coming from the vehicle as they approached. The man was reported dead at the scene.

Police should not be the first response for people in mental health crisis. A large proportion of people killed by police in Canada are experiencing mental health crisis at the time that police confront them. Yukon has no independent oversight body for investigating police harm to civilians.


Killer Cop Nicholas Doering Found Guilty in Death of Debra Chrisjohn of Oneida of the Thames First Nation

A judge in London, Ontario, has found Constable Nicholas Doering guilty in the death of 39-year-old Debra Chrisjohn, an Indigenous woman, the mother of 11 children, who died shortly after being arrested. Chrisjohn, of Oneida of the Thames First Nation, was arrested on September 7, 2016, after police were to Trafalgar Street and Highbury Avenue North, an intersection in London’s east end, regarding a woman allegedly obstructing traffic.

Chrisjohn was arrested by London police and then transferred to the Elgin County OPP detachment. Paramedics later took her to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital at 7:52 PM. She was pronounced dead almost one hour later.

Constable Nicholas Doering was charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life. Ontario Provincial Police Const. Mark McKillop had also been charged but his charge was later dropped.

The conviction of a police officer in the death of a civilian remains rare in Canada. Yet it is worth noting that this conviction comes only a day after killer cop Justin Holz was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death for killing Cody Severight, a 23-year-old Indigenous man in 2017.


Killer Cop Justin Holz Gets 30 Months for Killing Cody Severight in 2017

Killer Winnipeg cop Justin Holz, 36, pleaded guilty on October 30, 2019, to dangerous driving causing death for the collision that killed 23-year-old Cody Severight in 2017. Holz hit Severight and left the young Indigenous man to die in the road. A Manitoba provincial court judge agreed to a joint recommendation by lawyers and sentenced Holz to 30 months in prison. A rare case of a killer cop being charged, and an even more rare outcome that would see a killer cop do time in prison.

The court heard that Holz met other police officers for drinks at a bar starting before 5 PM on the evening of October 10, 2017. He drove off from a nearby car park around three hours later. Investigators calculated Holz was driving at up to 92 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. He hit Severight, who was crossing the street with another person, while going at least 76 km/h. According to the Court, Severight was launched across the road, his skull fractured and his neck broken in the collision.

Despite clearly striking someone, Holz did not stop or attempt to help the victim. Instead he continued to drive on, even increasing his speed up to 129 km/h. Almost 12 minutes after striking Severight, Holz parked and called police, saying he had hit someone. A breathalyzer test was done on Holz more than an hour after he struck Severight. The conduct of two other officers in delaying the breathalyzer was questioned but no disciplinary actions taken against them.

Severight was later taken to hospital but died of his injuries.

Holz had originally faced other offences, including impaired driving. Those charges were following the guilty plea.


License to Kill: Killer Cop Elizabeth Cucheran Let Off by Crown for Hudson Brooks Killing

When it comes to police killings of civilians, the state protects the state. This is not surprising given that police are the force of brute violence (the state’s monopoly on violence) which always accompanies and underpins the state’s legislative (ideological) face. Law and force go hand in hand.

On July 18, 2015, RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran shot 20-year-old Hudson Brooks nine times outside the RCMP detachment in South Surrey, killing him. The Constable fired a dozen times at the youth, who was shirtless and shoeless and in some mental health distress. On September 18, 2019, more than four years later, the British Columbia prosecution service announced that charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon had been stayed against Constable Cucheran.

That the killer cop did not even face charges of murder or manslaughter for shooting an unarmed youth nine times and that it took more than four years to reach this decision shows the special manner with which police who kill are treated by the state in Canada.

Even more, in announcing their the prosecution service chose to emphasize that “the law is clear that even the mistaken belief in the need to use lethal force is a complete defence.” Killer cops always have this excuse, no matter how unjustified, ludicrous, or unsubstantiated, at their ready disposal. It is all they ever need to kill when they want, under whatever conditions they themselves alone decide. Police define the circumstances and they define reasonableness. Even if they are mistaken or lying. Few prosecutors, who depend on police for their cases (and who also uphold the state as do police), will ever challenge them. It is literally a license to kill.

This case earlier showed as well the way in which police lie after they kill someone to suggest that the victim posed a greater threat than they did. To blame the victim. Initial RCMP statements suggested that there had been an exchange of gunfire and an officer was also shot. This gave a public impression that Brooks had been armed and there had been some sort of gunfight between the victim and officers. It was later revealed that Constable Cucheran, in a lethal panic, had shot herself among the 12 shots she fired.


Indigenous Father Geoff Morris (41) Killed by Regina Police (May 4, 2019).

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for an independent investigation after the killing of Geoff Morris (41) by Regina Police Service officers on May 4, 2019. In a news release, FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat noted that,

“We have seen officers investigating their fellow officers and we all know how those investigations turn out. We are calling on the Regina Police Service to allow for an outside and independent oversight body to be a part of this investigation. We have been calling for this for years and these senseless police-related deaths keep happening.”

Morris was shot and killed by Regina police, during what cops say was a hostage situation. There are reasons to be skeptical about this given the lack of public information around another recent alleged hostage-taking in which two people were killed by RCMP in Surrey, British Columbia in March 2019. In that case it was later revealed that police had shot and killed both people, including the alleged hostage Nona McEwan. Notably, Regina Police chief Evan Bray would not say whether an alleged hostage was still being held when the shooting occurred.

Indeed, the police justification of events is being contradicted by Morris’ fiancé, Jasmine Brass, who says she was present when Morris was killed. In her words: “Honestly it wasn’t necessary for them to kill him, they could’ve just tased him” (quoted in Melnychuck 2019). She reports that Morris had been struggling with mental health issues and that she and her sister were with Morris trying to help him the morning he was killed by police.

Brass also reports that he became more agitated when police arrived, a not uncommon occurrence as the appearance of police typically heightens tensions and stress. She gives a chilling account, saying on facebook that she heard a “bang” and felt a splatter of blood at the moment of killing. Incredibly Brass reports that police shot Morris while she sat between his legs.

Morris was biological father to four children. He also took in six other children and raised them. One daughter, Tanisha Whiteman, remembers him as a good, loving man who struggled with anxiety issues. She asks why police acted so quickly to kill. In her words:

“That’s somebody’s father. That’s somebody’s son. That’s somebody’s brother, somebody’s nephew. He was loved by so many people. Why? Just like that, he’s gone. There could have been other ways that could have been handled. They didn’t have to take someone’s life away (quoted in Whitfield 2019a).

Heartbreaking words about the role played by police came from 12-year-old son Nakayoh Friday: “I want people to know that the people who were supposed to protect us aren’t protecting us. They are killing us. I don’t want other families to go through my pain” (quoted in Whitfield 2019b).

According to Regina Police chief Evan Bray, legislation requires that the Regina Police Service’s Major Crime unit investigates the shooting. Cops investigating cops. The officer involved in the shooting was a member of the patrol response remains on active duty.

Regina police claim that the killing of Morris is the first killing by an officer in the city since 1998. Police also claim that there have been four officer-involved shootings in the last 10 years, with none of those resulting in the death of the victim.

 

Further Reading

Melnychuck, Mark. 2019. “Fiancee of Man Shot by Regina Police Questions Why Officer Used Lethal Force.” Regina Leader-Post May 6. https://www.journalpioneer.com/news/canada/fiancee-of-man-shot-by-regina-police-questions-why-officer-used-lethal-force-308570/

Whitfield, Janani. 2019a. “’He Didn’t Deserve to Die Like That’: Man Killed by Regina Police Was a ‘Family Man.’” CBC News May 5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/hostage-taking-incident-regina-geoff-morris-1.5124018

Whitfield, Janani. 2019b. “Children of Man Shot Dead by Regina Police Say He Was Close to Turning Life Around.” CBC News May 7. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-shooting-police-death-1.5126084


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.


Cops Investigating Cops: OPP Investigate RNC in Killing of Jorden McKay in Newfoundland

Cops are investigating cops again in Canada. This time members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be in Corner Brook, Newfoundland to investigate the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) officer who shot and killed Jorden McKay on November 27, 2018. Two officers involved in the interaction and both have been placed on leave. They will be assigned to administrative duties when they return to work as the investigation continues. Neither officer has been named publicly, generally the case in Canada where it is difficult for families and communities to find out the names and histories of police who kill.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) which has a history of letting killer cops off, will carry out a review of the OPP’s investigation, once that wraps up.