Category Archives: Uncategorized

Inquest Set for In-Custody Death of Ina Matawapit of North Caribou Lake First Nation after Lengthy Delay

After five years, a date has finally been set for the inquest into the death in police custody of 37-year-old Ina Matawapit, at the Weagamow Lake Nursing Station in North Caribou Lake First Nation, in northern Ontario. Matawapit died on June 7, 2012 after a transfer from a police vehicle while in custody. Matawapit’s case was one of several that have been egregiously delayed due to widespread problems with Indigenous representation on jury rolls. This ongoing, entrenched problem has characterized criminal justice systems and inquests in the Canadian state context. At least 20 cases in Ontario have been delayed by province’s jury roll problems.

The inquest into Matawapit’s death is mandatory under the Coroners Act because she was in custody at the time. The inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding her death by hearing from about 10 witnesses over the scheduled six days of proceedings. Dr. Michael Wilson will be presiding coroner during the inquest which is scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM on February 12, 2018 at the Days Inn in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

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No Charges Against BC RCMP in Pepper Spray and Choking Death of Jacobus Jonker in 2015

On Thursday, December 14, 2017 the British Columbia Prosecutor’s Service announced that there would be no charges against the killer Smithers RCMP officers involved in the pepper spray and choking death of 53-year-old rugby coach Jacobus Jonker in 2015. Jonker was killed at the police station a week after his Valentine’s Day arrest.

An investigation by the Independent Investigations Office of BC, the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians (but is by no means independent of police), decided there was a lack of evidence of a crime or use of excessive force by police, despite the fact that RCMP pepper sprayed the victim and one officer held him in some form of choke-like hold until he stopped moving. The state protects the state in cases of police violence against civilians.

Jacobus Jonker, had been arrested at his Smithers home following a call to 911 by his daughter around 10:34 PM on February 14, 2015. She had said the father was “horribly drunk” and the family had left the premises to go to a neighbor’s residence. Police arrived around 11:00 PM.

RCMP officers pepper sprayed Jonker and took him to the Smithers RCMP detachment. At the detachment there was allegedly a conflict between Jonker and an officer. As Jonker was moved to a cell, a supervisor claimed he felt threatened and other officers moved to restrain the victim. In the ensuing struggle, an assisting officer held Jonker around the head and neck. According to the report of the Prosecutor’s Service: “After a brief struggle the suspect stopped resisting and went limp. The officers rolled him over and found that he had stopped breathing.”

Jonker never regained consciousness. He was transported to Bulkley Valley General Hospital and then to Victoria General Hospital, where he died on February 21, 2015.


Police Kill Man Inside Bank North of Toronto (Dec. 13, 2017)

Details are still emerging after police killed a man in an RBC Bank in a commercial plaza in Maple, Ontario, north of Toronto. Initial media reports suggest the man was armed and there may have been a standoff and hostage situation. These reports have not been independently confirmed by sources beyond police at this point.

Police attended the scene in response to a call at about 1 PM. It is reported that they arrived at the RBC branch to find a gunman as well as a number of other people inside, including staff and clients. A negotiating team was brought in but it is not clear if they negotiated with the victim before killing him. At the time of writing the bank is still being cleared and there are no confirmed details on how many people were in the bank at the time or the reason the victim was in the bank.


SIU Investigating Death of Man During OPP Encounter in Douglas (Dec. 6, 2017)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating after a52-year-old man died of gunshot wounds during an interaction with officers of the Ontario Provincial Police in the village of Douglas. The SIU reports that police were called to a home in the village near Renfrew around 3 PM by someone concerned about a family member. At some point during the police encounter the man suffered a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Quebec Killer Cop François Laurin Sentenced to One Year for Killing Éric Rompré

François Laurin, an officer of the provincial Sûreté du Québec, has been sentenced to one year in jail for dangerous driving causing death, eight months to be served concurrently for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, and two years of probation in the vehicular killing of Éric Rompré and injuring of Marie-Ève Bossé in June 2012. Laurin had been found guilty of these offenses in January 2017. As part of his sentence, Laurin will also have to serve 150 hours of community service. He is prohibited from driving for 30 months.

Officer Laurin collided with a car carrying Éric Rompré and his partner Marie-Ève Bossé while racing to support a fellow officer at the Montebello Rockfest. He was traveling at 180 km/hr at the time. Rompré (25) died as a result of the crash, while Bossé is still suffering from the serious injuries that she sustained, including head trauma.

The Crown prosecutor had called for a two-year sentence for dangerous driving causing death, 16 months to be served concurrently for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, and a four-year driving ban. Laurin, a 28-year veteran of the force has been suspended without pay by the Sûreté du Québec.


Investigation into Death of David Tshiteya Kalubi (23) in Custody of Montreal Police (Black Lives Matter)

Quebec’s Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the in custody death of David Tshiteya Kalubi, a 23-year-old Black youth. Kalubi, who was arrested by Montreal police in his own neighborhood of Hochelaga, was declared dead less that 12 hours after his arrest.

Little information has been released publicly. Police say Kalubi was stopped by officers in Hochelaga and arrested on an outstanding warrant after police ran a background check. The BEI has not stated publicly what the outstanding warrant was for, only that it involved a municipal offense.

Community activists in the city, which has seen many cases of lethal police violence against civilians, and disproportionately against Black people, are raising concerns about Kalubi’s death and the actions of police. Racial profiling and so-called carding, where people are stopped by police and subjected to interrogation and/or background checks, have been strongly condemned by community members in cities across Canada. Carding goes hand in hand with profiling as Black people are disproportionately stopped for carding checks in Canadian contexts. Kalubi is of Congolese background.

Montreal police reportedly took Kalubi to the station, where he spent the night before being transferred to the municipal courthouse in Old Montreal to appear before a judge, according to the BEI. The transfer took place at 7:35 AM. Only a little more than an hour later, at 8:55 AM, a guard noticed that Kalubi was on the floor and appeared to be unconscious. He was then taken to the hospital and declared dead at 9:55 AM. Community members are raising concerns that Kalubi was subjected to differential, discriminatory, treatment because of histories of police racism in Montreal. The family, for its part has not raised the issues of racial profiling. According to the family’s lawyer, Virginie Dufresne-Lemire: “For the moment, there’s not enough information to know if it’s a case of racial profiling, but with a young black man arrested it can look like racial profiling” (quoted in MacArthur 2017).

Dan Philip, the executive director of the Black Coalition of Quebec has said publicly that it took police seven hours to notify his mother and family of Kalubi’s death. Even then, police took the opportunity to  first interrogated the family about Kalubi, before telling them he was dead, according to Philip. Said Philip, in an interview with CBC News: “They felt it was a travesty. They felt there was no compassion. They felt that there was no concern about either the death of the young man or the family themselves who have to mourn the situation” (quoted in MacArthur 2017).

Community advocates have little confidence that the BEI will provide satisfactory answers to the family’s many questions. Critics have long pointed out that the BEI includes several former police officers among its active members.  As Philips suggests: “It’s the police investigating the police. They have no interest in finding out why did he died and what negligence caused his death” (quoted in MacArthur 2017). It has also been pointed out repeatedly that the BEI lacks any meaningful diversity. It is expected that their report will not be released for another year yet.

 

Further Reading

MacArthur, Cecilia. 2017. “After a Young Man Dies in Custody, a Family Searches for Answers.” CBC News. November 24 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/david-tshiteya-kalubi-montreal-police-1.4416153


Killer Toronto Cop James Forcillo Heading to Prison as Bail Revoked

Killer Toronto cop James Forcillo is going to prison after his bail was revoked it was announced on November 30, 2017. Forcillo shot and killed 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on July 27, 2013, shooting the teenager multiple times, including after he had fallen to the ground from a fatal shot, even though Yatim was alone on an empty streetcar and posed no immediate threat to the public or to police. The killing was captured on video. Constable Forcillo was convicted in 2016 of attempted murder in the killing, because he shot Yatim after he had fallen to the ground of wounds already inflicted by the officer. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Forcillo had been out on bail pending the appeal of his conviction. He was arrested earlier in November 2017 for allegedly failing to comply with the bail conditions by failing to live with his surety or to inform authorities of a change of address, according to police. Forcillo has been in custody for two weeks since his arrest.

Following his arrest, the Attorney General of Ontario applied to have Forcillo’s bail revoked. A judge granted that request this week. Forcillo will remain in police custody while a charge of breaching bail is dealt with in court. That court date is set for December 15, 2017. He will then be transferred to federal prison to begin serving his prison sentence.