Tag Archives: IIU

Manitoba RCMP Kill 18-Year-Old Bill Saunders (November 15, 2017)

Manitoba RCMP shot and killed an 18-year-old man, identified publicly as Bill Saunders by his mother, during an attempted arrest in the early morning of November 15, 2017, at Lake Manitoba First Nation near St. Laurent, Manitoba. Saunders lived in Eriksdale, Manitoba. He leaves behind a girlfriend who is one month pregnant. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), which examines cases of police violence to civilians in Manitoba, is investigating.

According to the IIU an RCMP officer had his unmarked police vehicle and gun stolen by Saunders while the officer was transporting him to the remand center in Winnipeg. This has not been independently confirmed publicly. It has also not been confirmed why Saunders was a prisoner, how he was being held, or why he was being transported that distance by a single officer in a single vehicle.

Lake Manitoba First Nation Chief Cornell McLean has reported that the victim had arrested after stealing from some video lottery terminals in Lake Manitoba on Saturday. He was allegedly arrested on Monday.

Police claim the incident started at around 8:30 PM, November 14, on Highway 6, about 95 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg. RCMP did not alert the public until around midnight. A police news release at that time said the man was driving an unmarked white police van and said there would be a heavy police presence in the area. Saunders was located just before 1 AM on a highway near Lake Manitoba First Nation, about 100 kilometers north of St. Laurent. He was shot by RCMP and pronounced dead on the scene.

It has not been released publicly how many officers fired weapons, how many who fired hit the victim, or how many shots were fatal. Witness Mark Peikoff, owner of the Good Used Stuff store south of St. Laurent, has said that the police encounter happened, and ended, very quickly.

The Lake Manitoba First Nation was put on lockdown during the police manhunt in the area. The road into Lake Manitoba First Nation at Highway 417 remained blocked by RCMP as of the morning of November 15.

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Winnipeg Cops Delay Breathalyzer for Colleague Justin Holz in DUI Hit-and-Run Killing of Cody Severight

Questions are being raised publicly about egregious delay in police officers administering a breathalyzer test to their colleague who was involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Winnipeg. Constable Justin Holz (34) was arrested away from the scene a short tome after striking 23-year-old Indigenous man Cody Severight of Waywayseecappo First Nation on October 10, 2017.

Len Eastoe, a former cop who now runs Traffic Ticket Experts to help people fight fines, cannot understand why it took three to four hours to administer the test to Constable Holz. Said Eastoe: “It is a rather strange period of time” (quoted in CBC 2017). Eastoe notes that there can be a passage of time in administering the breath test, in this case the gap between when the crash happened and when Holz was tested is much too wide. He suggests that the test is usually done within two hours. In his view: “There has to be some sort of a reason for that, and then you’ve really got questions as to whether that test is going to be admissible or not” (quoted in CBC 2017).

Of course, some would offer the rather obvious answer that they are doing what cops routinely do in protecting their colleagues who kill. And in this case, as Eastoe suggests, it could rule the test inadmissible in any court proceedings against the officer, thus shielding him from conviction.

Even more, two police officers who had been assigned to investigate Holz have been placed on paid administrative leave and could face charges, for as yet unspecified activities. Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth has only said that the officers did not administer the breathalyzer test and were not at the scene of the collision.

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), Manitoba’s police oversight body, said on Friday, October 20, that it had been notified of “irregular and improper conduct of two officers” and is assessing whether charges should be laid. It ahs been reported that one of the officers in question was at The Pint, the bar at which officer Holz was drinking before getting in his car and killing Cody Severight. Did they watch as their colleague got into his car to drive off after an evening of drinking?

Constable Holz has been charged with impaired driving causing death and fleeing the scene of an accident.

 

Further Reading

CBC. 2017. “Breathalyzer Delay for Officer Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Raises Questions, Former Cop Says.” CBC News. October 25. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/breathalyzer-test-length-of-time-justin-holz-1.4370540


Winnipeg Killer Cop Justin Holz Charged in Killing Indigenous Youth Cody Severight

Winnipeg police Constable Justin Holz has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failure to remain at the scene after striking and killing pedestrian Cody Severight (23) with his vehicle on the evening of Tuesday, October 10, 2017. According to the Independent Investigations Unit, which is examining the killing, the 34-year-old Holz was located more than seven kilometers away fro the crash scene. Holz is an eight-year member of the Winnipeg police and was assigned as a criminal investigator. He has been placed on administrative leave but is still being paid. Winnipeg police traffic collision investigators assisted the IIU with a breathalyzer but it has not been revealed publicly whether Holz had a blood test to determine alcohol levels.

Holz was apparently working the day shift and would have gotten off work around 4:30 PM. He then allegedly went drinking until the crash at around 8:00 PM. Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth tried to suggest it is not unusual for someone to go for drinks after work. The issue here through is that the cop then apparently decide to get in his vehicle and race home.

Witness Donnie Fizell has reported seeing a car speeding down the street before striking Severight. In his words: “He must have flew 15 feet in the air and his head hit the curb. [Constable Holz] must have been doing 80 [km/h] when he hit that poor boy” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Cody Severight is from the Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. He had recently started classes at the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre to obtain his Grade 12. He and his partner were expecting a baby soon (Bernhardt 2017). His grandmother Gloria Lebold describes him: “He was a sweet little guy, always joking around, just being a little fun person” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Severight’s aunt, Nancy Gabriel, spoke honestly about the situation and noted the anti-Indigenous racism that has marked Winnipeg policing. In her view, police are supposed to be protecting people, “not killing people” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017). She continued: “As soon as he struck him he should have stopped straight away, not just keep on driving. You know how that looks, that looks like, ‘Oh that’s just another native.’ He was a good guy” (quoted in Bernhardt 2017).

Cody Severight will be buried next to his mother.

This is the third incident of police harm to civilians that the IIU has had to investigate this week alone in Winnipeg.

 

Further Reading

Bernhardt, Darren. 2017. “Winnipeg Police Officer Charged in Fatal Hit and Run Allegedly Impaired.” CBC News. October 11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pedestrian-cody-severight-dies-1.4349125


Winnipeg Police Kill 33-Year-Old Man (September 23, 2017)

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines police harm to civilians in Manitoba, is investigating the killing of a 33-year-old man in “The Maples” area of Winnipeg on the afternoon of September 23, 2017. Police claim they encountered a conflict when responding to a report of a stabbing. They say one officer was stabbed after police became involved. The 33-year-old victim was shot by an officer and taken to Health Sciences Centre but died. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed. There have been three shootings of civilians by police in Winnipeg in the past three months alone.


Winnipeg Police Kill 23-Year-Old Adrian Lacquette (Sept. 13, 2017)

A Winnipeg mother is grieving and seeking answers after Winnipeg police shot and 23-year-old son, Adrian Lacquette in the early morning hours of September 13, 2017. Jo-Anne Malcolm says she found out about her son’s killing when representatives of the Independent Investigations Unit (IIU) came to her home around 6:00 AM. Malcolm recounts that interaction: “They said, ‘Do you know Adrian?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my son.’ I knew right away, I didn’t even ask. I said, ‘Is he dead?’ and they said, ‘Yeah. Sorry to tell you, ma’am. He was shot this morning” (quoted in Malone 2017). This is the ninth police shooting of a civilian in Manitoba since June 2015.

Police have claimed that a man, whom they would not name, was shot on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street in the city’s North End just before 1:00 AM Wednesday. Malcolm reports being told that the incident involved suspicion of a stolen car.

Clayton Campbell, who lives on Alfred Avenue near Powers Street, said that the incident happened very quickly. Police seemed to open fire shortly after encountering the victim. In his words: “It happened in a moment, a split moment. It was an eruption of gunfire” (quoted in Malone 2017).

Jo-Anne Malcolm wants to know what happened. In her words: “I want everybody to know that they shot my son for nothing, for a stolen car. I don’t think they should have shot him. My son is well-known to police, but they don’t have to treat him like that” (quoted in Malone 2017).

 

Further Reading

Malone, Kelly. 2017. “23-Year-Old Shot Dead By Winnipeg Police.” CBC News. September 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/north-end-police-serious-incident-1.4287071


RCMP Constable Abram Letkeman Faces Multiple Charges in Killing of Steven Campbell

It is among the rarest of occurrences for a police officer who kills someone, even under the most dubious of circumstances, to be charged with anything related to the killing. As documented at this site are virtually never charged, and more a range of administrative mechanisms (inquests, inquiries, oversight bodies, etc.) are mobilized to legitimize the cops’ deadly actions. So it is of some note when a killer cop is actually charged, even if the courts often dismiss the charges or find for the killers.

Manitoba RCMP Constable Abram Letkeman has been charged with manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, reckless discharge of a firearm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm is the shooting and killing of Steven Campbell (39), a father of two, in Thompson, Manitoba in 2015. Constable Letkeman was arrested March 1, 2017. Letkeman shot and killed Campbell following a police chase on November 21, 2015. Shots fired by the officer also hit the mother of Campbell daughter, resulting in serious injuries (Taylor 2017). There were two other passengers in the vehicle into which Letkeman fired.

The province’s Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), which examines harm done by police to civilians in Manitoba, investigated the circumstances surrounding the shooting and killing and determined that there were grounds to lay charges. The manslaughter charge is the most serious charge recommended by the IIU since it started its work in June of 2015, reinforcing the fact that police rarely face appropriate charges when they kill civilians. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office had called an inquest into Campbell’s death in August 2016.

The family has always viewed  the RCMP version of events as “ a joke” (Taylor 2017). From the perspective of Shannon Heck, Campbell’s younger sister, the manslaughter charges do not go far enough ad do not reflect the, in her view, murderous approach taken by Constable : “The officer is somebody who is supposed to be able to keep his calm and cool and for some reason or other he didn’t do that and he didn’t act appropriately. I don’t think charging him with manslaughter is appropriate” (quoted in Taylor 2017).

The RCMP claim that Steven Campbell was driving erratically when RCMP officers pulled him over. They also claim that as one officer approach the vehicle Campbell accelerated his vehicle and him. RCMP say it was only then that shots were fired. These claims have not been independently confirmed and the family says that Campbell did not accelerate and did not even hit any officer. A passenger in the vehicle says Letkeman slammed his police car into the vehicle Campbell was driving, stopping it. She also claims the officer fired nine times into the vehicle (Graham 2017). What has been confirmed is that Constable Abram Letkeman fired wildly into the vehicle hitting and killing Campbell and critically injuring his partner (Taylor 2017).

From the family’s understanding of events: “The story the RCMP was releasing, it was a joke as far as we were concerned. We knew something else had happened and we knew that the truth would come out” (Heck quoted in Taylor 2017). As Shannon Heck says, at the end of the day: “My brother will never be brought back” (quoted in Taylor 2017).

Letkeman, a seven-year veteran of the RCMP, had been deployed out of the Portage la Prairie, detachment. He has been released on bail with conditions to appear at Provincial Court in Thompson at 10 AM on March 31, 2017. He is still being paid as an officer of the RCMP as he has been since the killing in 2015.

 

Further Reading

Graham, Ian. 2017. “RCMP Officer who Shot Thompson Driver in 2015 Charged with Manslaughter.” Thompson Citizen. March 2. http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/news/thompson/rcmp-officer-who-shot-thompson-driver-in-2015-charged-with-manslaughter-1.10790535

Taylor, Jillian. 2017. “RCMP Officer Charged with Manslaughter in 2015 Thompson Shooting.” CBC News. March 2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/rcmp-officer-charged-fatal-2015-shooting-thompson-1.4006644

 


Investigation into Police Killing of Man in Winnipeg (February 12, 2017)

The Independent Investigations Unit (IIU), the oversight body that examines police killings of civilians in Manitoba, is investigating after police killed a man they had taken into custody in the evening of February 12, 2017. Winnipeg police officers attended a home in Garden City after supposedly receiving reports of a disturbance there in the late evening. One man in the house said he wanted another man removed from the residence and police took the other man into custody to remove him. According to police some type of struggle ensured and the prisoner was injured fatally. Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services was contacted and the victim was taken to Seven Oaks Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Independently confirmed details of the killing have not been released publicly. Neither has the name of the victim.