Tag Archives: Human Rights

Killer Ottawa Cops Identified as Thanh Tran and Daniel Vincelette: Shot Greg Ritchie of Saugeen First Nation

Greg Ritchie, a 30-year-old Ojibwe man from Saugeen First Nation near Owen Sound, Ontario, has been identified as the man shot and killed by Ottawa police on January 31. Family members have spoken publicly to say he was experiencing mental health crises and was heading to a pharmacy to pick up medication when he was shot and killed by police. The responding officers have been identified as Ottawa constables Thanh Tran and Daniel Vincelette. Witnesses have reported hearing more than two shots. Tran is a repeat offender. He and another officer had been charged, in September 2011, with assault causing bodily harm following the arrest of an intoxicated 50-year-old homeless man.

Family members say Ritchie, who had been taken from his mother and placed in foster care, had struggled with mental health issues from a young age. He had moved to Ottawa to live with his brother and his partner. Ritchie’s sister-in-law reports that he was in good spirits the morning he was killed, having received his Ontario Disability Support Program payment and going out for a coffee. He then set out to get his medication, suffering a headache and recovering from a concussion. He had been a customer at the pharmacy at Elmvale Acres Mall since arriving in Ottawa.

Police allegedly received a call about a “suspicious incident.” This is a painfully poignant description given that Ritchie’s family says he had an ongoing fear that people viewed him suspiciously because of the way he looked and because of his Indigenous identity.

In the words of his sister-in-law, Chantel Ritchie:

“And the thing is, that’s not the kind of guy he is. He gets scared…and that’s the saddest part. We know that he was in complete and utter terror in a moment like that. He’s scared of just going into a grocery store…of just being in a crowd, because he’s afraid that people want to do something to him or don’t like him because of the way he looks.

“And honestly, we’ve seen it. People just take one look and that’s it. He’s First Nations, he’s been homeless before, and he is afraid. People just take all of that in one look and then make assumptions and then act on it. And it just really hurts that we weren’t there to be able to calm him down because there’s no way that any of this would have happened if we were there. There’s no way.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

Chantal Ritchie says Greg Ritchie felt better around family and was very involved in learning about his culture. She worries that cultural materials he carried with him might have been misinterpreted as weapons by the police who killed him. In her words:

“I could tell right away he suffered from mental illness, but when he was around family he was very happy. He was very into his culture and learning about his ancestors. He did sometimes exhibit that he feels the pain of what happened to his people…but he was just happy to be around family and to be at powwows and helping at those events.

“He was sometimes hired to keep sacred fires going at ceremonies, and spent time in woods and rivers looking for arrowheads. It also comforted him to recreate arrowheads and other artifacts.

“Those things he keeps on his person because it makes him feel safe. We always tell him, don’t bring it with you anywhere, because we were afraid of this very thing happening.” (quoted in CBC News 2019)

One witness, Shireen Moodley, reports hearing multiple rapid-fire gunshots

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2019. “Greg Ritchie ID’d as Man Shot and KIlled by Police at Mall.” CBC News. February 1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-fatal-police-shooting-family-1.5000285

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Man Falls to Death During Police Encounter in St. Catharines, Ontario (Jan. 19, 2019)

A man fell from a bridge to his death during a police encounter in St. Catharines, Ontario early in the day on January 19, 2019. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating the death. According to the SIU Niagara Regional Police were called to a location just south of the city’s downtown. The SIU say that a man was sitting on the Burgoyne Bridge on St. Paul Street West, overlooking Highway 406. They report that some time after police officers arrived, the man went over the edge and landed on the highway below. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

No further details have been provided publicly, including the reason police were called in the first place or why they decided to confront someone sitting on a bridge.

The SIU has assigned five investigators to the case, including one forensic specialist. A post-mortem has been scheduled for Monday, January 21.


Two Dead in Crash During Attempted Police Stop, Nanaimo (Jan. 14, 2019)

Two people are dead in a crash following an attempted vehicular stop by Nanaimo RCMP. The crash occurred on the Trans-Canada Highway near Duke Point on the morning of January 14, 2019. The Nanaimo RCMP officer tried to pull over a white pickup which then crashed into a red SUV. According to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm in British Columbia, the RCMP turned on the marked patrol car’s lights and sirens in an attempt to pull over the truck at around 12:40 AM.

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed that two people are dead as a result of the crash. Their identities have not been released. It has been reported publicly that the two people killed were the lone male drivers of each vehicle. It has also been reported that the driver of the red SUV was in his fifties.

According to Ron MacDonald of the IIO, the investigation will attempt to address several questions:

“That will include, were lights and sirens engaged? How long were they engaged for if they were? [What were the] speeds involved, distance and time involved? Was the attempt to stop the vehicle terminated at some point? If so, when did that occur in relation to the collision?” (quoted in DeRosa 2019)

MacDonald has also said that it is too early to say with certainty where the officer tried to pull over the truck. According to MacDonald: “How far apart the officer was from the vehicle at the time of the collision is, of course, an important factor for us to consider” (DeRosa 2019).

Police officers are not compelled to provide statements to the IIO. This has been an issue in previous IIO investigations and led the agency to sue the Vancouver Police Department to gain some cooperation in an investigation.

MacDonald has already said that gaining crucial information in this case is “going to be difficult without witness testimony” (DeRosa 2019). No details have been provided regarding why the officer targeted the white truck or why there was an attempt to pull it over.

Further Reading
DeRosa, Katie. 2019. “Police Watchdog Probes Head-On Crash that Killed Two Near Duke Point.” Times Colonist January 14. https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/police-watchdog-probes-head-on-crash-that-killed-two-near-duke-point-1.23598207


Winnipeg Police Shoot and Kill 26-Year-Old Chad Williams (Jan. 11, 2019)

Winnipeg police shot and killed a young man later identified as 26-year-old Chad Williams during the evening of January 11, 2019 in the city’s West End. Winnipeg police claim that at around 7:50 PM officers encountered a man near Sargent Avenue and Maryland Street who they say was acting suspiciously. The man allegedly fled that area, and officers encountered him again in a nearby vacant lot, where they shot him. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, where he later died. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) of Manitoba is investigating the killing.

The killing of Chad Williams was the second officer-involved shooting for the Winnipeg police within a period of 48 hours. On the evening of Wednesday, January 9, a 23-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound after police officers opened fire on a car at the intersection of Panet Road and Nairn Avenue. The victim in that shooting was injured and taken to hospital but survived.


Twenty-Nine-Year-Old Man Dies in Custody of London Police at Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre (Dec. 27, 2018)

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is looking into the death of a 29-year-old man at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) on December 27, 2018. The SIU reports that the victim was arrested by London police on December 26 at 3 PM. They claim that the as-of-yet unnamed man was transported to the police station and placed in a cell to await a bail hearing.

According to the SIU, the following morning he was transported to court for his hearing and then transferred to the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre. They report that shortly after his arrival at the EMDC, he collapsed. He was taken to the London Health Science Centre and pronounced dead at 8:59 PM.

The SIU has assigned two investigators to examine the circumstances surrounding this death.


Edmonton Police Shoot and Kill 34-Year-Old Identified as Buck Evans (Dec. 26, 2018)

Edmonton police shot and killed a 34-year-old man who has been identified by family as Buck Evans on Boxing Day in southeast Edmonton. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, has said that the fatal interaction began with a police traffic stop. It ended with police firing several rounds, striking and killing the victim who was pronounced dead shortly after 2:45 PM.

A witness, Dustin Waterson used his phone to record part of the interaction. That video records more than 30 gunshots. Waterson expressed shock at the number of shots fired by police and the fact that officers fired directly toward an apartment complex putting residents at great risk.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Waterson said: “Far too many as far as I’m concerned. It’s one thing for cops to get the bad guys, or whatever you want to call them, but it’s the fact that they were shooting towards the apartment building” (quoted in Cummings 2018).

Buck Evans was father to a young son.

 

Further Reading

Cummings, Madeleine. 2018. “Man Killed by Police on Boxing Day Fired Gun, ASIRT Says.” CBC News December 28. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/man-killed-boxing-day-fired-gun-asirt-investigation-condo-1.4961031


Calgary Police Shoot and Kill Woman on Christmas Morning (Dec. 25, 2018)

Calgary Police Service officers shot and killed a woman, said to be in her thirties, in the early morning hours of Christmas 2018. The woman was shot by an officer with around 10 years on the force some time after 2:30 AM on McKnight Boulevard near 68th Street NE. Police report that they had undertaken an hours long vehicle chase of the woman before stopping her vehicle and killing her near the northeast community of Falconridge. Details of the lethal interaction have not been disclosed publicly. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Alberta, is investigating the killing. An autopsy has been scheduled for December 26.