Category Archives: Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan RCMP Shoot and Kill 22-Year-Old Indigenous Man, Brydon Bryce Whitstone (Oct. 21, 2017)

Saskatchewan RCMP shot and killed 22-year-old Brydon Bryce Whitstone of Onion Lake Cree Nation around 9 PM on the evening of Saturday, October 21, 2017, in North Battleford.

RCMP have reported that they received a call from a man, saying he had been chased and shot at from a vehicle.  Police located the suspected vehicle and gave pursuit until they immobilized the vehicle. During their interaction with the driver shots were fired injuring a man inside the vehicle.  The victim, now identified as Brydon Bryce Whitstone, was pronounced dead at around 9:40 PM, while en route to hospital.

RCMP also report that a woman inside the vehicle suffered minor injuries. She was taken to hospital, but then released into police custody. Neither her condition nor the specific reason she was taken into custody have been reported publicly at this time. Neither has it been reported publicly how many shots were fired by RCMP officers. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed.

There is no independent investigative unit In Saskatchewan to examine cases of police harm to civilians in the province. RCMP Chief Superintendent Maureen Levy has reported that the Regina Police Service is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of Whitstone by RCMP officers.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice will also appoint what it calls an independent observer to oversee the investigation, but such observers are almost always former police officers, so in no way independent. Justice Ministry spokesman Drew Wilby explained at a news conference that in cases were an independent observer is requested, the ministry appoints someone such as a former police officer. Yet, Wilby suggested, incredulously, that, “This individual will not be connected to the RCMP.” But it could well be a fellow officer so no claims of independence have any credibility.

Saskatchewan RCMP are a directly colonial military force. It remains a force of settler colonial military occupation of Indigenous lands and has an ongoing history of violence against Indigenous people and communities.

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Regina Police To Investigate RCMP In Custody Death of 46-Year-Old Woman

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.


Police Investigate Police in Saskatchewan Civilian Death (July 5, 2017)

Police in Saskatchewan investigate police. There is no independent civilian oversight body in the province despite ongoing calls from community advocates.

On July 5, 2017, officers of the Blaine Lake Saskatchewan RCMP allegedly responded to a call about a distraught man with a firearm in a rural area. Two officers encountered a man who they say discharged the weapon, resulting in a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was taken to hospital in Saskatoon and pronounced dead there. The Saskatchewan RCMP have requested an investigation into the death, which will be conducted by the Saskatoon Police Service.


Austin Eaglechief (22) Dies After Being Shot by Saskatoon Police, Crashing Vehicle

On June 19, 2017, Saskatoon police shot 22-year-old Austin Eaglechief. The young man then crashed the vehicle he was driving into another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy suggests the gunshot was not the cause of death but it does not speak to the part that being shot played in the fatal crash. A 33-year-old passenger was also injured in the crash. Critics of the police suggest that officers were too quick to shoot the young man. The Saskatoon police force has a history of racist treatment and violence against Indigenous people in the city and nearby locales.


Fatally Injured but Resisted Arrest? Serious Questions over Police Role in Death of Jordan Lafond (Indigenous Victims)

Jordan Bruce Lafond, a 21-year-old father of a small child, died one day after being taken into custody by Saskatoon police following a violent arrest on October 23, 2016. Several weeks later serious questions remain unanswered regarding the role of police violence in causing the young man’s death.

Jordan Lafond’s mother, Charmaine Dreaver is seeking answers to those questions in the face of general silence from Saskatoon police. In her words: “I just want and need the truth to be told,” (quoted in Markewich 2016). Family members have turned to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations special investigations unit and the Chief of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation to discuss possible steps forward.

Jordan Lafond was the passenger in a vehicle that crashed while being chased by police. The driver sustained minimal injuries and ran from the scene. He was later found and charged. Lafond was supposedly found beneath the rear of the vehicle. Police have claimed he was thrown from the vehicle during the crash and was not run over by any vehicle. .

Charmaine Dreaver notes her son showed real physical trauma. In her words: “My son was banged up pretty bad. His body showed signs of a lot of damage” (quoted in Markewich 2016). She has reported being left with a sense of unease and questioning since learning about her son’s injuries. This sense grew upon hearing that the other man in the vehicle who fled was not nearly as badly injured (Markewich 2016). As she recalls: “[That] made me feel that, OK, there’s something more to this” (quoted in Markewich 2016). Police have said that the injuries, including bruising and head trauma were caused by the collision (Markewich 2016). She asked immediately for an autopsy to be undertaken to receive some answers and clarification. She relates: “I was angered and I was so hurt because my son went through so much pain” (quoted in Markewich 2016).

Police have provided the questionable and apparently contradictory explanation that the supposedly fatally injured Lafond resisted arrest to such an extent that an officer felt compelled to use a knee to subdue him. This seems implausible given the supposed degree of injuries police suggest were sustained from the crash alone.

Dreaver finds the explanation questionable as well. She notes: “I almost felt that I was lied to, really, because I didn’t know. I wasn’t told about [it]” (quoted in Markewich 2016).

The autopsy was completed Wednesday, November 2 but results have not been released. Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill has not given the public a timeline for release of the autopsy findings.

 

Further Reading

Markewich, Courtney. 2016. “‘Something More to This’: Saskatoon Mother Seeks Answers in Death of Son Taken into Custody.” CBC News. November 4. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/jordan-lafond-mother-seeks-answers-1.3837678


Investigation into Saskatoon Police Role in Death of Bruce Lafond (Indigenous Victims)

On October 23, 2016, Jordan Bruce Lafond (21) died after police used physical force to arrest him. The victim was in a vehicle that crashed while chased by police. It is reported that Lafond was thrown from the truck. An officer used a knee to subdue the stricken youth. Lafond was taken to hospital after being arrested. He died there the next day.

An autopsy was carried out Wednesday, November 2, but the Saskatoon Police Service is not saying when details of the autopsy would be available. The Police Service reports there is some video of the incident but they have not released it to the public and claim that it is too dark to make anything out. This has not been independently confirmed.

The investigation into Lafond’s death will be undertaken by the Saskatoon Police Service which gives no sense that it will be a thorough or reliable investigation, as police examine police. Jordan Bruce Lafond’s family, along with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations special investigations unit, has met with Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill to discuss the incident and investigation. In the meantime the officer involved has been reassigned to administrative duties while the examination is carried out.


Police Fire Shots, Man Found Dead After Standoff in Saskatoon Home (October 6, 2016)

Few details have yet been released after a man was killed during a standoff with police in a Saskatoon home, Thursday morning on October 6, 2016. It is acknowledged by police that their officers fired several shots and it does not appear that they were fired upon first.

Police entered the home on the 500 block of Avenue Q North after receiving a call at about a suspected break-in by the home’s owner Ron Zerebeski. Saskatoon Police Service reported that upon searching the home officers found one room closed. Opening the door slightly they claim to have seen a man inside armed with a gun. Home owner Zerebeski has since said that he had many guns in his home. Police claim that on seeing the man they immediately retreated and set up a security zone around the house.

Police have not claimed the man fired any weapon but an initial investigation reveals that at least two member of the Saskatoon Police Service fired multiple shots. Police are not sure or not revealing how many shots their officers fired. When attempts to make contact with the man were unsuccessful police entered the closed room, around 4:30 PM, and found the man dead.