A 19-year-old man died on the morning of October 12, 2019, while in-custody at the RCMP Detachment in Onion Lake. Saskatchewan. RCMP have only reported that the youth’s death was “sudden.” In their media, the RCMP say the man, from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, was found unresponsive in the cell area shortly after 8 AM. Paramedics were apparently called, and the man was pronounced dead on the scene.
There is no outside unit in Saskatchewan to investigate police-involved deaths in the province so police in Saskatchewan investigate police. In this case Moose Jaw Police are investigating the circumstances of the death. The Ministry of Justice is expected to appoint an observer during the investigation. In any event, this is an unacceptable process of one force “investigating” another force, a process that lacks credibility.
A 54-year-old man has died in police custody in The Pas, Manitoba, a town about 600 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg. According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, police arrested the man after responding to a call about an intoxicated person on October 5, 2019. He was put in a cell at the RCMP detachment at around 7 PM. The man was found unresponsive in his cell the next morning. According to the IIU, emergency medical services attended and pronounced the man dead in the detachment. Police and jail cells are not appropriate responses for someone dealing with substance use issues.
A 34-year-old man died after being tased by Peel police on September 10, 2019 in Malton, Ontario. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, reports that police officers responded to “a domestic call” at a home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive some time after 9 PM. The SIU claims that officers had “an interaction” with a man that “involved the use of a conducted energy weapon.” The man then “went vital signs absent” and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. No details have been provided publicly about the specifics of the call or the nature of the “interaction” police had that killed the man
The SIU report that five investigators and one forensic investigator have been assigned to the killing. Two subject officers and one witness officer are the focus of the investigation.
A 27-year-old man has died after being arrested by Winnipeg police. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harms to civilians in Manitoba, reports that on September 23 police officers responded to a call about a man in some distress who is said to have appeared confused and was yelling in an area near Assiniboine Avenue and Kennedy Street at around 12:42 AM. The IIU reports that police used force to arrest him. During the arrest the man became unresponsive and was taken to hospital in critical condition. The victim died in hospital on September 30.
This death again raises the question of why police, who respond, and quickly, with force are being sent to deal with health care crises. Police are not, and should not be, health care workers. This is at least the seventh through police action in Winnipeg in 2019.
Strathcona County (near Edmonton, Alberta) RCMP shot and killed a woman who had called them requesting assistance. RCMP responded to the victim’s call for help at her home in the Pine Street area at about 7:30 AM. At some point a responding officer shot and killed her. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The Alberta Serious Investigation Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the 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.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating a fatal collision in New Tecumseth (north of Toronto) resulting from a police pursuit on September 16, 2019. According to the SIU, an Ontario Provincial Police officer was operating a police vehicle in the New Tecumseth area at about 11:40 PM. The officer allegedly observed a Pontiac and began to follow the vehicle. No reason has been given publicly for why the officer took note of the vehicle or decided to pursue it.
At some point the Pontiac became involved in a collision with a Volkswagen in the area of 20th Sideroad and 5th Line. Two women in the Volkswagen, the 23-year-old driver and a 36-year-old passenger, were taken to hospital where the passenger was later pronounced dead. A woman who was a passenger in the Pontiac was also taken to hospital with injuries.
The SIU has assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to this case. At time of writing one subject officer has been designated.