The Independent Investigations Office is investigating circumstances that left a 35-year-old man dead after a confrontation with police near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
RCMP claim that officers were called to a highway near Qualicum Beach on the morning of Thursday, October 12, 2017, over reports of a man who had stabbed himself. Police claim they chased the man down the highway and a struggle ensured during which an officer fired a shot. Paramedics apparently arrived to provide medical assistance but the man died of injuries sustained.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, announced on October 2, 2017, that it is investigating an in-custody death in Quesnel, BC. The victim, identified as a woman, reportedly died only hours after being arrested by RCMP.
According to the IIO, RCMP officers claim they were called on reports of an assault early Sunday morning. Upon arrival they found a female victim who they decided to arrest for allegedly breaching a court-imposed condition. The victim was arrested and taken to the local RCMP detachment where police claim she was examined by paramedics before being taken to hospital. The woman died in custody Monday morning.
Police accounts have not been independently verified. No further details have been publicly released. Neither has it been explained why the victim of an assault was not treated as such and taken directly to hospital rather than arrested for an administrative offense and taken to the detachment. People detained over so-called administrative offenses make up a relatively large proportion of people incarcerated in British Columbia.
St. Paul Alberta RCMP shot and killed a 26-year-old man at Whitefish Lake First Nation on September 6, 2017. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) reports that RCMP claim they responded to a disturbance call on the Whitefish First Nation (180 km northeast of Edmonton) around 6:15 PM. The first officer arrived on scene at about 7:45 PM having traveled from St. Paul, which is about 60 km southeast of the scene. According to ASIRT the officer saw a man walking on the side of a road and initiated an encounter with him. According to ASIRT this encounter became a “confrontation” which ended when the RCMP officer shot the man resulting in his death. The man died of his injuries on the way to hospital.
None of the details provided by police have been independently confirmed. It is not known publicly if anyone other than the cop who killed the victim witnessed the killing. It bears noting that the RCMP was founded as and remains a settler colonial military force.
The Regina Police Service will conduct an investigation into the death of a 46-year-old woman at the RCMP Indian Head detachment on Saturday, September 2, 2017. The woman was in the cell area and paramedics took her to Indian Head Hospital where she was declared dead. Police are using one of the dubious designations they favor, sudden death, to describe the case. No further details have been provided publicly. There is no independent oversight body to examine cases of police harm to civilians in Saskatchewan. Police are allowed to investigate police.
The Office of the Chief Coroner in Northwest Territories (NWT) has called an inquest into the death of Beverly Elanik, a 51-year-old mother of five children who died in RCMP custody in Inuvik in January 2016. RCMP assumed that Elanik was intoxicated when they arrested here. While being processed to leave the following day, police claim she went into what they are calling “medical distress.” She was taken by police to the Inuvik hospital, where died. Eileen Edwards, Elanik’s mother, has stated publicly that police from Medicine Hat, Alberta, told her that her daughter had suffered a seizure. The inquest into Elanik’s death is scheduled to start on September 26 at the Mackenzie Hotel in Inuvik.
RCMP in NWT have said that the Medicine Hat Police Service will be conducting an external review of the incident. There is no process for independent review in place in the territory.
It is, of course, rare for killer cops in Canada to be charged with criminal offenses for harming civilians. The state protects the state. One of those rare cases involves Alberta RCMP Constable Michelle Phillips. The constable has pleaded not guilty to two charges in the killing of 41-year-old Indigenous person Tracy Janvier on August 21, 2016. In June 2017, one count of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Constable Phillips was charged with The killer cop was not present in court when the pleas were entered by a lawyer on August 30, 2017. A preliminary inquiry is scheduled to be held in June 2018.
The charges came after an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. ASIRT concluded Janvier died as a result of being struck and killed by an RCMP vehicle traveling at “an extremely high rate of speed.” Constable Phillips had been responding to a call about an accident on the road in which Janivier, who had been struck by a previous vehicle, was being tended to by a 71-year-old man. Constable Phillips hit both the injured Janvier and the 71-year-old caregiver with her police vehicle at high speed.
At the time of the killing Constable Phillips had one year of service with the RCMP. RCMP have claimed the officers have been suspended with pay and will remain off duty until internal processes and all criminal charges against her are dealt with.
Between July 24 and July 27, 2017, coroner’s inquest in Baker Lake, Nunavut, examined the death in jail of Paul Kayuryuk in October 2012 and concluded that police must “challenge assumptions” about intoxication in Inui communities. This after necessary medical attention was not provided Kayuryuk after RCMP jailed the man, who was having a stroke, on the assumption that he was drunk.
RCMP took Kayuryuk into custody after he was found unconscious at the landfill in Baker Lake. Kayuryuk was observed overnight by three different guards and remained unconscious. It was only at midday the following day that a medical examination was ordered as a result of information received from the family. Kayuryuk was diabetic and the doctor and nurses at the local health center determined that he was experiencing a serious stroke. He was medivacked to Winnipeg but died there two weeks later from complications from the stroke.
Six jurors made 17 recommendations. Among them:
Cultural sensitivity training for officers and providing prisoners access to Inuktitut translators; Seeking family insights and acting on the side of health care rather than presumed intoxication when in doubt.
Nunavut’s Chief Coroner Padma Suramala will present the recommendations to the RCMP who are under no obligation to observe them. This is one of several coroners’ inquests examining harm to Indigenous people by police with implications of racism and racist stereotyping of people seeking or in need of medical care.