Tag Archives: Oversight

19-Year-Old Man Dies In Custody of Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, RCMP (Oct. 12, 2019)

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.


Confirmed: RCMP Killed Both Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson in Surrey, BC, in March

Many questions have been unanswered since two people, later identified as Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson, were killed during an alleged hostage taking and police standoff in Surrey, British Columbia on March 29, 2019. Foremost among these was whether RCMP officers actually fired the fatal shots, killing both people. Police have been notably silent on that question all the while putting out a public narrative that they used lethal force to save a hostage who was probably killed by the hostage taker. On May 2 the horrible answer finally came. The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) has publicly confirmed that both Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson were killed by multiple shots fired by the RCMP.

Initial reports suggested that both had been shot with Crosson dying at the scene and McEwan dying later in hospital. Police alleged that Crosson had taken McEwan hostage and implied that police violence was necessary to save the hostage.

When asked previously by reporters if he could say conclusively that a police bullet did not hit Nona McEwan, the Surrey Now-Leader reports that Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesperson Corporal Frank Jang replied:

“No, I mean that’s all part of the investigation that’s happening now. There will be updates coming forth from the IIO but all those details, the exact mechanism, entries, where the shots came from, that’s all going to be part of the investigation. I can’t comment further because it’s still ongoing.”

Police control the information flow when they kill in the Canadian context. In various cases when they kill, they frame reports of events to blame victims or suggest that police acted heroically under immediate threat. As in this case they suggest that a victim was killed by “a suspect” rather than by police.


Cops Investigating Cops: OPP Investigate RNC in Killing of Jorden McKay in Newfoundland

Cops are investigating cops again in Canada. This time members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be in Corner Brook, Newfoundland to investigate the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) officer who shot and killed Jorden McKay on November 27, 2018. Two officers involved in the interaction and both have been placed on leave. They will be assigned to administrative duties when they return to work as the investigation continues. Neither officer has been named publicly, generally the case in Canada where it is difficult for families and communities to find out the names and histories of police who kill.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) which has a history of letting killer cops off, will carry out a review of the OPP’s investigation, once that wraps up.


Data Show Third Consecutive Yearly Increase in Police-Involved Deaths in BC

A database of deaths involving BC law enforcement shows an increase in police-involved deaths of civilians in the province in 2016, the third year in a row such an increase has been recorded. The database is maintained by The Georgia Straight newsmagazine, and journalist Travis Lupick, and uses information from the BC Coroners Service and the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. The records account for people dying during interactions with police and in law enforcement agency custody. Numbers for 2017 are still being compiled and assessed.

Over the period of 2009 to 2013, reported police involved deaths were at 13 or 14 each year. In 2014, the number of recorded deaths rose to 16. There were 17 recorded in 2015 and 18 in 2016. The eighteen recorded deaths in 2016 represents the highest number recorded for a single year in the database, which traces back to 2003. In 2007 there were 17 deaths reported, the second highest number.

The database records show that the increase has been driven by the RCMP, which polices 150 municipalities across the province as well as serving as a provincial and a federal force. While many of those are jurisdictions are small towns, and several notable killings by police have occurred in small towns and in the north, the RCMP is also responsible for larger cities, including Metro Vancouver centers of Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey. In 2012, four people died during interactions with RCMP officers, while the number rose to seven in 2013, six in 2014, 12 in 2015, then 12 again in 2016.

In terms of shootings, since 2006, there have been an average of 3.8 recorded fatal shootings by police each year. Total numbers for the database include deaths in BC prisons (omitting natural causes). Deaths in prisons continue to constitute a relative minority in the reported cases. The database suggests that many of the cases of reported police-involved deaths involve issues of mental health and/or substance use. Issues like race, and racism, and impacts of colonialism are not systematically documented.

There are no official recording and communicating procedures for documenting police-involved killings in British Columbia, nor are there in other Canadian provinces. This leads the public to believe police killings of civilians in Canada occur less frequently than they actually do. We have heard people express on numerous occasions the belief that police killings of civilians in Canada in single digit numbers each year—for the country as a whole. The reported numbers obviously do not include any killings of civilians by police that police do not report.

 

The database can be accessed at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aLNSF4Hkk9XdVKeuVU6ZrRO6GtSxT4t8TiMiQ6ptLrY/edit#gid=0


No Charges Against Two Winnipeg Cops Investigating Killer Cop Justin Holz, Despite “Improper Conduct”: When Cops Investigate Cops

On December 20, 2017, it was announced that no charges will be brought against two Winnipeg police officers assigned to help investigate the hit-and-run killing of Cody Severight (23) by Winnipeg officer Justin Holz (34) on October 10, 2017. Severight, of the Waywayseecappo First Nation, about 280 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg, was struck by the vehicle driven by Holz while crossing Main Street near Sutherland Avenue around 8 PM. Officer Holz had been out drinking before getting into his vehicle. He has been charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

Two other Winnipeg officers involved in the investigation into Holz’s killing of Severight were placed on administrative leave ten days after the killing.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), the agency that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in the province, reported that it had been notified of “irregular and improper conduct of two officers.” The IIU has now concluded that no charges should be laid and reported this in an uninformative media release. IIU director Zane Tessler said in that release: “It’s kind of difficult to discuss the specifics of [my decision] given that everything is intertwined in pending matters that are still before the court.“ Indeed developing excuses for letting cops off the hook can take time and is no doubt “difficult to discuss” in a way that they public would accept.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) may continue its “investigation” into the two officers. Both officers have returned to duty and the WPS says it will not be commenting further. By now we have come to know what to expect when police investigate police.


Trial for Killer Cop Simon Beaulieu Hears Cops Should Be Given More Consideration Than “Regular” Citizens

Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu drove into and killed Guy Blouin  on September 30, 2014, backing his police vehicle over the victim who was riding a bicycle at the time. We have already documented the base policing assumptions that led Beaulieu to act in the way that he did in killing Blouin (assuming Blouin was suspicious because he was riding the wrong way on a one way street; assuming he had something to hide because he did not obey an order allegedly given to stop, etc.).

On Monday, October 23, 2017, the court heard, during Beaulieu’s trial on charges of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, that as a police officer he “could not be judged on the same level as a regular citizen” (Page 2017). Said Beaulieu’s defense attorney Maxime Roy: “We can imagine that being on patrol requires more manoeuvres than your average person” (quoted in Page 2017). And Roy concluded that Beaulieu was simply “trying to do his job and apprehend a suspect” (Page 2017). Never mind that the so-called suspect was a product of the officer’s authoritarian privilege and did nothing more than ride the wrong way and, the clincher, disobey a police order (which there is no way of knowing was either given or heard).

It is no surprise that police believe they are better than “regular” members of society and should be treated preferentially in all cases. This is a rather common approach to getting killer cops off in the rare cases in which they are actually brought to trial. That it could be confidently uttered as an element of defense in a killing of a civilian who did no wrong shows the nature of the criminal justice system in the Canadian state context.

 

Further Reading

Page, Julia. 2017. “Defence Attorney Calls for Acquittal on all Charges Against Quebec City Police Officer.” CBC News. October 23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/simon-beaulieu-defence-closing-arguments-1.4367741


Judge Upholds Dismissal of Charges Against Killer Cops Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau in Michel Vienneau Killing

Constables Patrick Bulger (38) and Mathieu Boudreau (26) had each faced charges of manslaughter with a weapon, assault with a weapon, and unlawfully pointing a firearm for the shooting and killing of businessman Michel Vienneau on January 12, 2015 under highly questionable circumstances. The police had been given an erroneous anonymous “tip” that Vienneau was in possession of drugs when the officers confronted him outside the Bathurst, New Brunswick train station.

On October 20, 2017, Court of Queens Bench Judge Tracey DeWare upheld an earlier court decision dismissing the charges against the two constables. The evidence in the case still remains subject to a publication ban for at least 30 days, unless the ruling is appealed.

In February, provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman ruled, following a preliminary hearing, that the prosecution failed to produce enough evidence to warrant a trial. The judge dropped charges against the officers. New Brunswick’s Public Prosecutions Services challenged that ruling, arguing that the  the judge failed to consider all relevant evidence.

An RCMP investigation later found that Vienneau was not involved in any criminal activity. A civil lawsuit on behalf of Vienneau’s partner, who was accompanying him at the time he was killed, alleges that his death was caused by police negligence.

This decision is not surprising in the least since the state consistently protects the state in cases of police killings of civilians in Canada.