Category Archives: Police Accounts of their Killings

ASIRT Confirm Whitecourt, Alberta, Victim Shot and Killed by RCMP (July 3, 2018)

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Alberta, have confirmed that a man who died during an encounter with police near Whitecourt, Alberta on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, was in fact shot and killed by RCMP. Initial reports had put some distance between the police firing their weapons and the man’s death, suggesting that he was found dead sometime later and not clearly stating that he died as a direct result of police shooting him. This is yet another example of why we  can never accept police accounts and reports of their violence. All police will lie. Police will lie always.

ASIRT report that RCMP officers had been looking for a vehicle linked to an undisclosed “incident” that allegedly occurred Monday, July 2, in Valhalla, 60 kilometers northwest of Grande Prairie. It is further reported that around noon on July 3, officers spotted a vehicle parked at the Chickadee Creek rest stop on Highway 43, about 20 km northwest of Whitecourt.

A man in the vehicle appeared to be asleep in the driver’s seat, which was reclined. Officers apparently approached the vehicle and discharged their firearms, striking and killing the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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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


No Charges Against RCMP in Killing of Peter DeGroot in 2014

RCMP shot and killed Peter DeGroot in 2014 after tracking him to an isolated cabin in a remote woods near Slocan, British Columbia. It took the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) an outrageously long period of nearly four years to issue their report into the killing, which they finally did on March 29, 2018. Not surprisingly they cleared the officers involved in the killing of DeGroot. Broader questions remain about why they targeted and tracked the man who seemed only to want to be left alone in the woods.

It has been stated by police that the events leading to DeGroot’s killing began when RCMP officers responded to reports of a dispute between two people on October 9, 2014. DeGroot fled into the woods. Police initiated a search by officers, deploying helicopters and dogs. Police found DeGroot alone in a cabin four days later while out in the woods on unrelated business. Initial evidence and a first coroner’s report suggested that DeGroot had been shot in the back. Some have speculated that the drawn out investigation was really about finding time to patch together an alternative conclusion more favorable to police.

The IIO report concludes: “The evidence collected does not provide sufficient grounds to consider any charges against any officer. The evidence does offer support to the conclusion that the officers acted as required by their duties and in accordance with the law.

RCMP deputy commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr has lauded the work of new IIO chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald since he took over the post a year ago and says he has given her confidence that trust in the IIO will be renewed by police. This should given anyone concerned about police oversight and independent review great cause for concern.


Family Say Montreal Police Brutally Beat Koray Celik: Refute Police Account of His Death

Koray Kevin Celik (28) died during a police intervention at his family’s Île-Bizard home one year ago. On March 6, 2018, his family organized a vigil outside the Pierrefonds police station to commemorate their loved one and raise some troubling questions about police actions, and accounts of their actions, in Koray Celik’s death. Celik’s parents, Cesur and June, say their son needs to be remembered and what happened to him needs to be discussed publicly. And this discussion needs to happen loudly and often until there is some change (Feith 2018).

Koray Kevin Celik, 28, died during a police intervention at the family’s Île-Bizard home one year ago when the young man was experiencing some distress. Said Cesur Celik: “My son was in crisis and was in a vulnerable state. When the police walked in, he was standing. When they left, they carried his body out. He lost his life in their hands, in front of our eyes.” (quoted in Feith 2018).

Celik acknowledged that the parents called the police seeking help and assistance. The call was made a bit before 2 AM. The parents did not want him their son to hurt himself or to leave the house (Feith 2018). They now express regret at having called police at all.

What happened during the police intervention is under investigation. Few details have been made public. According to Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the body that examines police interventions connected to deaths or injuries in the province, Montreal police responded to a call regarding a distressed man. The official story says that upon arriving at the house in Île-Bizard, Koray Celik became aggressive and suffered a fatal heart attack while police tried to control him (Feith 2018).

Cesur Celik, who says he witnessed the interaction in his home, rejects the bureau’s public version of events. He says four officers “brutally and viciously beat” his son before he died (2018). The family is considering legal action against the Montreal police force. They have tried to see a police incident report, autopsy, or coroner’s report but their efforts have been thwarted at each turn. The lack of information has added to the family’s grief. Says Cesur Celik: “We’ve been living with this nightmare ever since. One year later and there is still nothing. How can that be?” (quoted Feith 2018).

The Montreal police force (SPVM) has refused to comment on what happened the night Koray Celik died. Since June 2016, the BEI has investigated 72 cases. These include 37 fatal police interventions and five deaths that occurred during police detention (Feith 2018).

At the March 6 vigil, family and friends held signs reading : “Justice for Koray”; “We will not go away”; “The law applies to everyone” (Feith 2018).

 

Further Reading

Feith, Jesse. 2018. “A Year After Fatal Police Intervention in Île-Bizard Questions and Pain Linger.” Montreal Gazette. March 6. http://montrealgazette.com/news/a-year-after-fatal-police-intervention-in-ile-bizard-questions-and-pain-linger


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

 


Secrecy Surrounds “Tragic Incident” Involving Police that Leaves One Dead at Hospital in St. John, NB

Neither police nor Horizon Health representatives are speaking publicly about a “tragic incident” that left a patient dead at the Saint John Regional Hospital sometime over the weekend of January 26-28, 2018. The “tragic incident” was aid to have happened on Saturday but the exact time of death has not been disclosed, nor has the cause of death. For their part, Saint John police have only described the death as “more of a hospital matter than police” which says virtually nothing. The Coroner Services said they had been notified of the death and started an investigation but they refuse comment as well.


Third Trial for Killer York Regional Cop Remo Romano for Killing Natasha “Carla” Abogado

On February 12, 2014, York Regional Detective Remo Romano struck and killed 18-year-old pedestrian Natasha “Carla” Abogado while driving at speeds of 115 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on a busy Toronto street. January 17, 2018, found Romano on trial for the third time for the killing.

His first trial in May 2016 ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a verdict. He was acquitted in a second trial later that year but the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a retrial based on flaw’s in the trial judge’s charge to the jury. Romano is pleading not guilty. At the outset of the current trial, Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme told the jury not to research the case, including what happened in the previous proceedings.

Detective Romano struck Abogado while she was crossing mid-block to her family’s home on the south side of St. Clair Avenue East, on her way home from a part-time job. Romano was speeding eastward on St. Clair Ave. E., trying to catch up with other police surveillance members of Project Litterbox, a YRP surveillance investigation into a series of non-violent commercial break-ins where around $500,000 in cosmetics and perfumes had been stolen. He was driving an unmarked truck with no sirens or flashing lights. Romano was trying to catch up to the other officers because he had been at the station retrieving another officer’s firearm that had been forgotten in a desk drawer.

According to the opening statement by Crown attorney Rebecca Schwartz, Romano was driving 115 km/hr in a 60 km/hr zone near a seniors’ health centre. Detective William Newton, who travelled in a police vehicle behind Romano, stated that no arrests were imminent as they sped along the busy avenue. He said that Romano was simply “trying to catch up to the action” (Mandel 2018).

Witness Dorota Taylor saw two police vehicles speed past her. In her testimony: “I thought they were racing because of how close they were to each other and the speed that they were going” (quoted in Mandel 2018).

The jury was told that a senior collision reconstructionist from the Special Investigations Unit, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, will testify that if Romano had  been doing even 80 km/hr that night (instead of nearly twice the legal limit) he would have been able to avoid hitting Abogado.

We need to remember that killer cop Romano was speeding at twice the legal limit with no lights or sirens to catch up with surveillance team members who were working on a case protecting wealth for private companies, not responding to any immediate threat (and certainly no violent one) to the public. He simply wanted to be part of “the action.” And he killed Natasha Abogado to do so.

 

Further Reading

Mandel, Michele. 2018. “Third Trial for Speeding York Cop in Death of Teen.” Toronto Sun January 17. http://torontosun.com/news/local-news/mandel-third-trial-for-speeding-york-region-cop-accused-of-dangerous-driving-causing-death