Tag Archives: London

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.


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.


Fifty-Five-Year-Old Man Dies in London Police Custody (Oct. 11, 2018)

A 55-year-old man died while in custody of London police on October 11, 2018. According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, police report that they responded to calls about an allegedly impaired driver near Wonderland Road South and Exeter Road at about 9:20 PM. Police claim that they located a vehicle in the ditch south of Harry White Drive and Wonderland.

Police arrested the apparent driver of that vehicle who was put into a cruiser to be transported to the cells at London police headquarters. Police claim that at some point, while still held in the cruiser in the cell bay area of police headquarters, the man became unresponsive and had no vital signs.

According to the SIU, the man was taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 11:58 PM. The SIU has assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to examine the death.

SIU records show that the London Police Service has been the subject of 14 Special Investigations Unit probes so far in 2018 alone.


No Explanation Why Charges Against OPP Constable Mark McKillop Dropped in Killing of Debra Chrisjohn of Oneida Nation

No explanation has been given for why charges of criminal negligence causing death have been dropped against Constable Mark McKillop of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in the death of Debra Chrisjohn (39) of Oneida Nation of the Thames.

In a public statement Chrisjohn’s family said this about the dropping of charges: “The decision by the Crown… is hard for the family to understand. We hope that everyone who played a role will be held accountable.”

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province,  had charged two police officers with the death of Chrisjohn—Constable Nicholas Doering of the London Police Service (LPS) and OPP Constable McKillop. McKillop and Doering faced one charge each of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life. Doering will still face those charges.

London Police Service officers responded to calls made to 911 during the late afternoon of September 7, 2016. Chrisjohn was arrested by LPS and transferred into the custody of Ontario Provincial Police with the Elgin County detachment.  At around 7:52 PM, Emergency Medical Services transported Chrisjohn to St. Thomas Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 8:43 PM.

Caitlyn Kasper, a lawyer at Aboriginal Legal Services and counsel for the family, noted that the family has still not been provided with basic details of the death of their loved one. Kasper explained in the public statement:

“Without knowing the specific details surrounding the death of Debra, it is difficult for the family to assess the decision by the office of the Crown attorney. However, we know that as this active prosecution moves towards preliminary inquiry or trial, more details will emerge. In the meantime, I certainly expect that the Ontario Provincial Police will be thoroughly reviewing the actions of Const. McKillop to determine if there were breaches of the Police Services Act.”


The Death of Debra Chrisjohn: Racism and Police Violence Against Indigenous Women

Nearly a year after the death of Debra Chrisjohn in police custody, and even after the filing of charges against police officers responsible, Constable Mark McKillop of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Constable Nicholas Doering of the London Police Service, many issues remain unaddressed and unanswered about police actions in her arrest, detention, and death. Beyond the specific actions undertaken by police, the circumstances of Chrisjohn’s death raise issues of police racism and violence against Indigenous people and communities.

Debra Chrisjohn (39) of the Oneida Nation of the Thames was arrested on September 7, 2016. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, announced on July 13, 2017, that constables McKillop and Doeriing have been charged with one count each of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life. Both had contact with Chrsijohn on the day she died. The family has received few facts about the death of their loved one beyond this.

The family wants to know why the officers did not seek medical attention for their loved one when it became apparent that she needed help. Debra Chrisjohn’s father Robert Chrisjohn, asks: “Why didn’t the police take her to the hospital sooner when they knew she was sick and needed help? The police arrested her and were responsible for making sure she was okay. This happens way too often in our community. This happens all the time. The police just don’t seem to care” (quoted in McQuigge 2017)

Caitlyn Kasper, of Toronto’s Aboriginal Legal Services, claims that police had enough information available to deal with Debra Chrisjohn’s case in a different way. For example, police knew that Chrisjohn had a documented history of both substance abuse and mental illness. At the time of her arrest and detention on September 7, 2017, there were clear indications that Chrisjohn was in need of medical attention, not time in police custody

The family and community advocates insist that any discussion related to the actions of these officers in this case must address the troubling behaviors of police forces across Canada in dealing with Indigenous communities. This is, of course, an ongoing history of colonial violence and brutality. In the words of Caitlyn Kasper: “What happened to Debra is not an isolated incident. It is very obvious that it isn’t these types of issues just in London or the Oneida First Nation. It’s a concern we hear about in Toronto, all across Ontario and all across Canada” (quoted in McQuigge 2017)

.According to Kasper, the case against the officers must focus on what she terms the “foundational relationship” between police and Indigenous people across the Canadian state (McQuigge 2017). Kasper notes the ongoing questions of police responsibility in cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Many believe that police have been purposefully negligent in investigating those cases. Others suggest that police are themselves involved in the killings and disappearances of Indigenous women. Samantha Doxtator, a friend of the victim, has stitched together traditional moccasin vamps to commemorate Debra Chrisjohn and is sending them to be included in an art installation in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and the United States.

Giselle Dias, an area psychotherapist who has spent 25 years working for prisoners’ rights, insists it be acknowledged that Indigenous and marginalized communities are most impacted by the criminal justice system in Canada. She agrees that Chrisjohn’s death points fundamentally to the a systemic issue of over-policing and mistreatment within racialized communities (Ghonaim 2017). And she is rightly not optimistic about the court process offering any redress. In her words: “Just because these police officers have been charged, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be found guilty. I will not rest assured” (quoted in Ghonaim 2017).

In case after case this truth remains. The system protects itself and that includes protecting killer cops.

 

Further Reading

Ghonaim, Hala. 2017. “Family of Indigenous Woman Who Died in Police Custody Seeks Answers and Justice.” CBC News. July 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/family-of-indigenous-woman-who-died-in-police-custody-wants-justice-1.4204624

McQuigge, Michelle. 2017. “Charges Point to Police-Indigenous Tensions.” Sudbury Star. July 15. http://www.thesudburystar.com/2017/07/15/charges-point-to-police-indigenous-tensions

 


Charges Against Killer Cops Mark McKillop and Nicholas Doering in Death of Debra Chrisjohn

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians has announced that two police officers have been charged in the 2016 death of Debra Chrisjohn, of Oneida Nation of the Thames. The officers charged are Ontario Provincial Police Constable Mark McKillop and London Police Service Constable Nicholas Doering. The killer cops face charges of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life, respectively. Chrisjohn, died while in police custody, only an hour after she was taken to hospital.

Details surrounding the death have not been made available and many questions remain to be answered. What has been said, though there has been no independent confirmation, is that London police were called to Trafalgar Street and Highbury Avenue North, a neighborhood in that city’s east end on September 7, 2016 for someone supposedly obstructing traffic. Chrisjohn was arrested by London police for the obstruction and then transferred to the Elgin County OPP detachment supposedly on an outstanding warrant from 2013.

The rest remains obscure, with the SIU refusing even to name a cause of death publicly. So far they have only been willing to offer that at some point on the afternoon of September 7, 2016, Chrisjohn was moved to a jail operated by the OPP. Chrisjohn was taken by paramedics from the jail to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital at 7:52 PM. She was pronounced dead there at 8:43 PM.

Even family members have not been given toxicology results or been told details of their loved one’s death in custody. This is a stark situation given repeated calls for transparency in the SIU and its reporting system.

Constable Doering could face up to five years in jail, while Constable McKillop faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. It virtually never happens that a killer cop is convicted for their actions let alone receiving a maximum sentence. Both officers are still on duty. McKillop is on active duty with the OPP, while Doering is doing administrative duties

Members of the Oneida Nation of the Thames hope that these charges will bring some attention to the mistreatment of Indigenous women by police. Complaints have long been raised against various police services for inflicting extreme violence, including sexual violence, against Indigenous women.


London Police Kill Samuel Maloney, 35-Year-Old Father of Two with Children in House

Police in London, Ontario killed Samuel Maloney, 35, early Friday morning around 6 AM, December 23, 2016, at his home on the city’s Duchess Avenue. Police fired into the house and killed the victim while at least one child, including a toddler, was present inside. A woman, said to be living at the home, was reported immediately after the killing by police to be holding the toddler. Two children, the two-year-old boy and a six-month-old baby girl live in the house. Their father is now dead.

The differential and deferential treatment given killer police by mass media compared to what is shown to the victims of police is exemplified in the headline used by the National Post newspaper in the case of this killing. The headline, “London Cop Shot with a Crossbow During Confrontation that Led to Man Being Gunned Down by Police,” focuses on harm supposedly incurred by an officer (an injury) rather than the killing of the civilian (who may have had nothing to do with the crossbow). In fact the national paper does not even give the victim the dignity of saying he was killed by police. Instead he was “gunned down” as if some undeserving villain in an old West drama. The stricken officer is even given first notice, and primary concern, in the first sentence in the article. Yet the officer’s injuries are reported as only minor.

The news accounts also focus on a previous weapons raid at the home in 2007, when Maloney was 26. This sets the stage to pose the victim as a legitimate target. Despite the fact that, as the report later reveals, Samuel Maloney was found to have all of his weapons properly registered. This image of a weapons hoarder in a Canadian context is explicitly meant to evoke the vision of some gun obsessed survivalist a la the US context of NRA extremists. Yet it is curious that someone with a supposedly massive weapons cache would use a crossbow rather than a gun if they sought to do real damage to police. Interestingly though it is the victim’s partner Melissa Facciolo, 35, who is charged with possession of a prohibited weapon—the crossbow.

As in virtually every case in which police kill a civilian in Canada, the media turn focus directly to the history of the victim to legitimize whatever actions police might have taken. This case is no different in that regard. Yet there is nothing to suggest that the victim’s weapons ownership is in any way related to violent or threatening or even seriously criminal behavior. And in any event, as in all such cases, random or trivial accounts of some aspect of personal history say nothing about a victim’s activities in the moment in which police killed them.

It has still not been independently confirmed that Maloney was the person who supposedly fired a cross bow striking an officer. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates cases of harm to civilians by police officers in Ontario, has designated three subject officers as well as 18 witness officers in the case. Apparently no charge have been disclosed related to any reason police attended the house in the first place. In addition police refuse to say why they were at the home.

 

Further Reading

Carruthers Dale and Jennifer O’Brien. 2016. “London Cop Shot with a Crossbow During Confrontation that Led to Man Being Gunned Down by Police.” National Post. December 23. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/london-cop-shot-with-a-crossbow-during-confrontation-that-led-to-man-being-gunned-down-by-police