Tag Archives: First Nation

Killer Cop Nicholas Doering Found Guilty in Death of Debra Chrisjohn of Oneida of the Thames First Nation

A judge in London, Ontario, has found Constable Nicholas Doering guilty in the death of 39-year-old Debra Chrisjohn, an Indigenous woman, the mother of 11 children, who died shortly after being arrested. Chrisjohn, of Oneida of the Thames First Nation, was arrested on September 7, 2016, after police were to Trafalgar Street and Highbury Avenue North, an intersection in London’s east end, regarding a woman allegedly obstructing traffic.

Chrisjohn was arrested by London police and then transferred to the Elgin County OPP detachment. Paramedics later took her to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital at 7:52 PM. She was pronounced dead almost one hour later.

Constable Nicholas Doering was charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life. Ontario Provincial Police Const. Mark McKillop had also been charged but his charge was later dropped.

The conviction of a police officer in the death of a civilian remains rare in Canada. Yet it is worth noting that this conviction comes only a day after killer cop Justin Holz was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death for killing Cody Severight, a 23-year-old Indigenous man in 2017.


Killer Cop Justin Holz Gets 30 Months for Killing Cody Severight in 2017

Killer Winnipeg cop Justin Holz, 36, pleaded guilty on October 30, 2019, to dangerous driving causing death for the collision that killed 23-year-old Cody Severight in 2017. Holz hit Severight and left the young Indigenous man to die in the road. A Manitoba provincial court judge agreed to a joint recommendation by lawyers and sentenced Holz to 30 months in prison. A rare case of a killer cop being charged, and an even more rare outcome that would see a killer cop do time in prison.

The court heard that Holz met other police officers for drinks at a bar starting before 5 PM on the evening of October 10, 2017. He drove off from a nearby car park around three hours later. Investigators calculated Holz was driving at up to 92 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. He hit Severight, who was crossing the street with another person, while going at least 76 km/h. According to the Court, Severight was launched across the road, his skull fractured and his neck broken in the collision.

Despite clearly striking someone, Holz did not stop or attempt to help the victim. Instead he continued to drive on, even increasing his speed up to 129 km/h. Almost 12 minutes after striking Severight, Holz parked and called police, saying he had hit someone. A breathalyzer test was done on Holz more than an hour after he struck Severight. The conduct of two other officers in delaying the breathalyzer was questioned but no disciplinary actions taken against them.

Severight was later taken to hospital but died of his injuries.

Holz had originally faced other offences, including impaired driving. Those charges were following the guilty plea.


Lucien Silverquill (37) Identified as Saulteaux Man Killed by RCMP at Fishing Lake First Nation

Lucien Silverquill has been identified publicly by his brother Moses Silverquill as the 37-year-old Saulteaux man shot and killed by Saskatchewan RCMP. The victim was a father with young children. The scene he describes, and the RCMP handling of it, raises some serious questions about police conduct.

Moses Silverquill suggests that the RCMP, as is often the case when they kill someone, were more concerned with an arrest than with ensuring the victim received necessary medical attention. He reports that Lucien Silverquill was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the leg. He says his brother was alive for some time but in great pain.

According to Moses Siverquill, RCMP officers attempted to handcuff and subdue his brother after they had shot him. In his view more than half an hour passed before Lucien Silverquill was put into the ambulance that had arrived on the scene (Pasiuk 2019). In his words: “It was a very horrific scene when we got there….They didn’t give him CPR or anything like that. They just pinned him to the ground. That’s what we saw” (quoted in Pasiuk 2019).

Moses Silverquill also points out the lack of information and response to questions by RCMP. He says that RCMP refused to let family members near his injured brother. According to Moses Silverquill: “It was very hard to get answers from [RCMP] as to what was going on with my brother” (quoted in Pasiuk 2019).

He has many questions about police actions before, during, and after the shooting. He wonders why alternative approaches were not taken and why police acted so quickly to shoot and were so single minded in privileging arrest over medical care, which his brother clearly needed. He asks: “I know the police officer that did the shooting must be really emotionally disturbed but was it dealt with properly? That’s the question…. Could this guy’s life have been saved?” (quoted in Pasiuk 2019).

Moses Silverquill reflects on the brother taken from his family by police violence: “My brother was a good person…. He had kids. He left little kids. I know he was a caring guy when he was with his family” (quoted in Pasiuk 2019).

 

Further Reading

Pasiuk, Emily. 2019. “Family Identifies Lucien Silverquill as Man Killed by RCMP on Fishing Lake First Nation.” CBC News August 28. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/lucien-silverquill-fishing-lake-first-nation-rcmp-shooting-1.5262506


Saskatchewan RCMP Shoot and Kill Man at Fishing Lake First Nation (Aug. 27, 2019)

Saskatchewan RCMP have shot and killed a man at a home on Fishing Lake First Nation, on the afternoon of August 27, 2019. The only report made publicly so far has been made by the RCMP. It has not been confirmed. The RCMP claim that officers from the Wadena detachment were dispatched at around 1:30 PM after receiving a call about a man, allegedly armed with a knife, causing a disturbance outside of a home. Shortly after encountering a man at least one officer discharged their firearm, striking him. The man was declared dead at the scene.

There is no police oversight body in Saskatchewan. RCMP have asked the Moose Jaw Police Service to conduct a police investigation into the killing. They have also asked the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice to appoint an independent observer to asses the quality of the external investigation. The latter request is in accordance with the RCMP Act. This means that there will be no, even nominally, independent investigation into this killing.

The victim’s next of kin have reportedly been notified of his death but the name is not being released publicly.


Robin Fiddler of Waterhen Lake First Nation Identified as Woman Killed by Calgary Police (June 26, 2019)

Family members have identified 34-year-old Robin Fiddler of Waterhen Lake First Nation, in northern Saskatchewan, as the woman shot and killed by a Calgary police officer on June 26, 2019. She was shot twice by the killer cop. Fiddler was a trades worker in construction.

Fiddler’s family is demanding justice. They question the quick violence of the Calgary police. Mario Fiddler, the victim’s cousin, says:

“We believe Robin didn’t deserve to die — we want to see justice. We believe the Calgary police officer could’ve taken different steps dealing with Robin (and that) a Taser could’ve been used instead of shooting our cousin. My cousin isn’t the type of person to be an aggressor.” (quoted in Laing 2019).

Another cousin, Angela Fiddler, has reflected on Robin Fiddler’s determination and humor. In her words:

“She always tried to get through whatever systemic barriers that she faced — she always tried to make a way. She was just a blessing to us. It was her smile, she was always so funny and she always wanted to make people laugh.
“When we were both younger, I just took her under my wing and that was that. She would come live with me when she had the opportunity. I’ve always had an open door for her. Robin was a beautiful soul, she deserved to live.”

Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld has said that the officer who killed Fiddler was wearing a police-issued, body-worn camera at the time of the killing. No video has been released publicly. Robin Fiddler’s killing is at least the third police-involved death in Calgary in 2019.

The family reports that they are returning Robin Fiddler’s body to Saskatchewan so that the family can lay her to rest and start a traditional healing journey (Laing 2019).

 

Further Reading

Laing, Zach. 2019. “Calls for Justice from Family of Woman Shot Dead by Calgary Police Officer. Calgary Sun June 30. https://calgarysun.com/news/crime/calls-for-justice-from-family-of-woman-shot-dead-by-calgary-police-officer


Indigenous Father Geoff Morris (41) Killed by Regina Police (May 4, 2019).

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for an independent investigation after the killing of Geoff Morris (41) by Regina Police Service officers on May 4, 2019. In a news release, FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat noted that,

“We have seen officers investigating their fellow officers and we all know how those investigations turn out. We are calling on the Regina Police Service to allow for an outside and independent oversight body to be a part of this investigation. We have been calling for this for years and these senseless police-related deaths keep happening.”

Morris was shot and killed by Regina police, during what cops say was a hostage situation. There are reasons to be skeptical about this given the lack of public information around another recent alleged hostage-taking in which two people were killed by RCMP in Surrey, British Columbia in March 2019. In that case it was later revealed that police had shot and killed both people, including the alleged hostage Nona McEwan. Notably, Regina Police chief Evan Bray would not say whether an alleged hostage was still being held when the shooting occurred.

Indeed, the police justification of events is being contradicted by Morris’ fiancé, Jasmine Brass, who says she was present when Morris was killed. In her words: “Honestly it wasn’t necessary for them to kill him, they could’ve just tased him” (quoted in Melnychuck 2019). She reports that Morris had been struggling with mental health issues and that she and her sister were with Morris trying to help him the morning he was killed by police.

Brass also reports that he became more agitated when police arrived, a not uncommon occurrence as the appearance of police typically heightens tensions and stress. She gives a chilling account, saying on facebook that she heard a “bang” and felt a splatter of blood at the moment of killing. Incredibly Brass reports that police shot Morris while she sat between his legs.

Morris was biological father to four children. He also took in six other children and raised them. One daughter, Tanisha Whiteman, remembers him as a good, loving man who struggled with anxiety issues. She asks why police acted so quickly to kill. In her words:

“That’s somebody’s father. That’s somebody’s son. That’s somebody’s brother, somebody’s nephew. He was loved by so many people. Why? Just like that, he’s gone. There could have been other ways that could have been handled. They didn’t have to take someone’s life away (quoted in Whitfield 2019a).

Heartbreaking words about the role played by police came from 12-year-old son Nakayoh Friday: “I want people to know that the people who were supposed to protect us aren’t protecting us. They are killing us. I don’t want other families to go through my pain” (quoted in Whitfield 2019b).

According to Regina Police chief Evan Bray, legislation requires that the Regina Police Service’s Major Crime unit investigates the shooting. Cops investigating cops. The officer involved in the shooting was a member of the patrol response remains on active duty.

Regina police claim that the killing of Morris is the first killing by an officer in the city since 1998. Police also claim that there have been four officer-involved shootings in the last 10 years, with none of those resulting in the death of the victim.

 

Further Reading

Melnychuck, Mark. 2019. “Fiancee of Man Shot by Regina Police Questions Why Officer Used Lethal Force.” Regina Leader-Post May 6. https://www.journalpioneer.com/news/canada/fiancee-of-man-shot-by-regina-police-questions-why-officer-used-lethal-force-308570/

Whitfield, Janani. 2019a. “’He Didn’t Deserve to Die Like That’: Man Killed by Regina Police Was a ‘Family Man.’” CBC News May 5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/hostage-taking-incident-regina-geoff-morris-1.5124018

Whitfield, Janani. 2019b. “Children of Man Shot Dead by Regina Police Say He Was Close to Turning Life Around.” CBC News May 7. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-shooting-police-death-1.5126084


Manitoba First Nations Police Kill Benjamin Richard (23) on Long Plain First Nation (April 2, 2019)

Manitoba First Nations Police shot and killed 23-year-old Benjamin Richard on Long Plain First Nation on the evening of April 2, 2019. The victim’s identity was confirmed publicly by his sister Patricia Richard. She reports that she called police after speaking with her mother because she believed her brother to be ‘freaking out’ and shooting out of the house where her mother lives.

Patricia Richard had hoped police would protect her brother, not shoot him. She is upset at how police handled the situation, believing it could have and should have ended differently.

She has since said that her mother told her: “They went rushing in there. Everything happened too quick. She said they didn’t have to [shoot him]. He wasn’t threatening anyone, he just snapped on himself” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

The victim’s niece, Tammy Smith, said she was outside the house in a pickup truck with Richard’s mother when three officers spotted Richard through a window and started shooting at him. She describes a chaotic, reckless, rush to lethal force. In her words: “I was backing up to see if I could see Ben, when all the shots came from the (police). I’m pretty sure they all unloaded their clips. We just started screaming” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

She echoed the family’s feelings of anger over how the situation was handled: “It should not have escalated to that point. They should have waited for more people. They should have tried to wait it out. They were all outside, shooting through the walls and windows. They never even entered the house…” (quoted in Rollason 2019)

Witnesses suggest that the victim was only firing his weapon into an empty field and the ceiling of the house. They say he posed no threat to anyone, but was simply upset. She relates: “His mother, last week, called the [police] to take him to the hospital so he could be assessed. But when they came and talked to him, they said he wasn’t a threat to anyone. Then a week later, they come back and shoot him” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Patricia Richard has said that in her view the officers were “trigger-happy.” She suggests: “They knew my brother needed help a few days before anything happened. He was unstable. Everyone saw the signs” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

And she concludes: “I believe what happened could have been 100 per cent preventable” (quoted in Rollason 2019).

Smith remembers Benjamin Richard in these terms: “He was kind, caring and always thinking of others more than himself. The world lost a great man. My heart breaks” (quoted in Macdonnell 2019).

According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Manitoba, it was notified by Manitoba First Nations Police that officers had responded to a report of a man armed with a firearm in a residence at around 6 PM. During an encounter at least one office fired a weapon, striking the man. The victim, Benjamin Richard was pronounced dead on the scene. Three officers involved in the case are now on administrative leave.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “Man Shot Dead by First Nations Police Force in Manitoba, Family Says.” CBC News April 3. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-first-nations-police-long-plain-1.5082537

Macdonnell, Beth. 2019. “Man Dead after Officer-Involved Shooting on Long Plain First Nation.” CTV News April 3. https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/man-dead-after-officer-involved-shooting-on-long-plain-first-nation-1.4363800

Rollason, Kevin. 2019. “Officers Called ‘Trigger-Happy.’” Winnipeg Free Press April 4. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/officers-called-trigger-happy-508094702.html