Tag Archives: Saskatchewan

Pressing Questions as Inquest into Police-Involved Death of Indigenous Man Jordan Lafond is Postponed to June

There are many unanswered questions about the role Saskatoon police played in the death of 21-year-old Jordan Lafond of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. An inquest into the death that was scheduled to take begin March 5, 2018, and which family hoped would provide some answers, has now been postponed until June 25.

The questions surrounding Lafond’s death are more pressing given that police initially suggested the injuries that led to Lafond’s death were inflicted in a vehicular crash and did not report that an officer used his knee to subdue the young man when he was handcuffed.

It has been reported publicly that Jordan Lafond died after the stolen truck he was a passenger in crashed into a fence on the outskirts of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the early morning hours of October 23, 2016. Lafond was taken into custody and later died in hospital. Police have not been forthcoming on their role in Lafond’s death and what they did to him during the arrest.

A six-person jury, five women and one-man, was selected on Monday. Four of the jurors are Indigenous. Three were selected from a special jury pool of Indigenous people and one who self-identified. The request for Indigenous jurors can be made at inquests but not for criminal trials, an issue that has received great attention following the recent not guilty verdicts in the killings of Indigenous youth Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. The inquest is strictly a fact finding exercise and cannot assign blame or lead to charges being laid.

Grace Lafond-Barr, Jordan’s grandmother expressed the family’s grief: “Emotions have been up and down. A lot of tears, a lot of anger, a lot of sadness. Because we don’t know what happened to Jordan” (quoted in Hamilton 2018). She noted that police were not honest in reporting their actions during Jordan Lafond’s arrest. In her words: “We didn’t hear the truth when we were told of Jordan’s injuries. It would be nice to know what happened to him” (quoted in Hamilton 2018).

Police changed their story about what happened a few weeks after Lafond died. They had initially claimed that Lafond was found underneath a tire of the truck that crashed and said at that time that he died of injuries resulting from that crash. Then-police Chief Clive Weighill alleged that officers believed Lafond was resisting arrest and acknowledged that an officer used his knee to subdue Lafond and that he was handcuffed. Police have not admitted what part that might have played in the death.

Police even had to downgrade the initial charge of dangerous driving causing death laid against the driver of the stolen truck. Said the Crown prosecutor at the time: “We weren’t in a position to prove that the accident—or the collision, in this case—caused the death” (quoted in Hamilton 2018).

Saskatoon Police Service released a statement on March 5 saying that  they had carried out an internal investigation into Lafond’s death but would not release any details or results. There is no police oversight body, independent or otherwise, in Saskatchewan. The officer responsible is still on regular duties.

Jordan Lafond was a new father and worked at a roofing company to support her. Said Lafond-Barr: “Yes maybe he was in a stolen vehicle. But that doesn’t mean you should end his life over it. That’s what I said. I would like to bring some humanity to this (quoted in Hamilton 2018).

Anyone following events in Saskatchewan will note that young Indigenous men have been killed in that province for as little as stepping foot on a farm claimed by a white settler, with the settler farmer getting off despite admitting to the killing. So being killed by police for being in a stolen vehicle would not be unlikely in that context. And the officer involved will likely not even be charged. Jordan Lafond was the same age as Colten Boushie.

 

Further Reading

Hamilton, Charles. 2018. “’Everyone is Disappointed’: Inquest into Death of Jordan Lafond Postponed Until June.” CBC News March 5. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/family-hoping-for-answers-as-inquest-in-jordan-lafond-s-death-begins-1.4559159

 

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Thirty-Four-Year-Old Man Dies Following Encounter with Regina Police Services (Jan. 16, 2018)

A 34-year-old man has died following a period in care of the Regina Police Service in the morning of January 16, 2018. According Regina police, officers were dispatched to a residence in a south Regina neighborhood, on Pasqua Street, at around 6:30 AM. Police say they arrived on the scene and found the man in distress. He was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

There is no oversight body to investigate police harm to civilians in Saskatchewan. Police and the Office of the Chief Coroner will jointly investigate the death. The Regina Police Service has requested that the Ministry of Justice appoint an independent observer to provide oversight and review the investigation. None of the claims made by police have been independently verified publicly. Results of any investigation will remain questionable because of a lack of real, meaningful independence from police.


Police-Involved Deaths in Canada in 2017: What Little We Know

There is no formal, systematic process for documenting and recording the deaths of civilians through encounters with police in Canada. There is no systematic reporting publicly of civilian deaths through police encounters. A baseline or minimum number of people who died through police encounters can be arrived at by review of oversight agency reports, coroners inquest reports, and close following of media articles. Here is some of the very limited information of what we know about 65 reported deaths. Much more needs to be known and should be made public.

 

  1. Amleset Haile. Female. 60. January 2. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Self-inflicted. (Black woman).
  2. Jimmy Cloutier. Male. 38. January 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot.
  3. Ralph Stevens. Male. 27. January 7. Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
  4. Nadia Racine. Female. 34. January 25. Gatineau, Quebec. Gatineau Police. In-custody.
  5. Male. 20. February 11. Goodfare, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
  6. Male. No Age Given. February 12. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. In-custody.
  7. Moses Amik Beaver. Male. 56. February 13. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous Man).
  8. Female. 20. March 6. Burlington, Ontario. Halton Regional Police Service.
  9. Male. 28. March 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Heart attack.
  10. Vitaly Savin. Male. 55. March 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
  11. Male. 20. March 18. Pond Inlet. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
  12. Male. March 24. 61. Chateauguay, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec.
  13. Male. 40. April 1. Kelowna, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  14. Male. 24. April 28. Puvirnituq, Quebec. Kativik Regional Police Force. In-custody.
  15. Male. 39. May 2. Hall Beach. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
  16. Male. 32. May 13. Fort McMurray, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
  17. Male. 41. May 15. Beauceville, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  18. Male. 26. May 22. Cambridge, Ontario.
  19. Female. No Age Given. May 27. Oak Bay, British Columbia. Victoria Police.
  20. Male. 43. June 3. Smith Falls, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Self-inflicted.
  21. Male. 31. June 3. Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa Police Service. Shot.
  22. Male. No Age Given. June 18. Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot
  23. Austin Eaglechief. Male. 22. June 19. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Police. Shot.
  24. Pierre Coriolan. Male. 58. June 27. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot. (Black man).
  25. Male. No Age Given. July 3. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Vehicle chase.
  26. Male. No Age Given. July 5. Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. RCMP. Self-inflicted.
  27. Male. No Age Given. July 9. Quebec City, Quebec. Quebec City Police. Shot.
  28. Dale Culvner. Male. 35. July 18. Prince George, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  29. Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay. Male. 50. July 19. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous man).
  30. Shawn Davis. Male. 52. July 26. Chatham, Ontario. Chatham Police. “Sudden Death.”
  31. Male. 66. July 30. Pointe-Calumet, Quebec. Vehicle chase.
  32. Male. 25. August 10. Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  33. Female. 55. August 7. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
  34. Male. 23. August 20. La Sarre, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
  35. Male. No Age Given. August 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. In-custody.
  36. Ozama Shaw. Male. 15. July 27. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Region Police. Shot. (Black youth).
  37. Male. 48. September 4. Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury Police. In-custody.
  38. Female. 26. September 4. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
  39. Unnamed Male. 26. September 6. Whitefish Lake First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot.
  40. Female. 46. September 9. Indian Head, Saskatchewan. RCMP. In-custody.
  41. Male. 29. September 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
  42. Adrian Lacquette. 23. September 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
  43. Male. 34. September 15. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
  44. Male. 33. September 23. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
  45. Sheila Walsh. Female. 65. September 25. Arnprior, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Vehicle chase.
  46. Female. No Age Given. October 2. Quesnel, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
  47. Nathan Wehlre. Male. 15. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
  48. Taryn Hewitt. Female. 16. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
  49. Cody Severight. Male. 23. October 10. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Hit and run, officer DUI.
  50. Male. 35. October 12. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot.
  51. Cavin Poucette. Male. 26. October 19. Gleichen, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
  52. Brydon Bryce Whitstone. Male. 22. October 22. North Battleford, Saskatchewan. (Indigenous man).
  53. Tom Ryan. Male. 70. October 27. Cobourg, Ontario. Cobourg Police Service. Shot.
  54. Male. 44. October 31. Brampton, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. During arrest.
  55. Male. 23. November 8. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody.
  56. Bill Saunders. Male. 18. November 15. Lake Manitoba First Nation, Manitoba. Shot.
  57. Male. 57. November 26. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. In-custody.
  58. David Tshitoya Kalubi. Male. 23. November 24. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody. (Black youth).
  59. Male. 52. December 6. Douglas, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
  60. Male. 25. December 13. Maple, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Shot.
  61. Babak Saidi. Male. 43. December 23. Morrisburg, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
  62. Male. December 24. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
  63. Male. 22. December 28. Umiujaq, Quebec. Shot.
  64. Male. 36. December 28. Danford Lake, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot
  65. Male. No Age Given. December 30. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. Shot.

 

 


Saskatchewan RCMP Shoot and Kill 22-Year-Old Indigenous Man, Brydon Bryce Whitstone (Oct. 21, 2017)

Saskatchewan RCMP shot and killed 22-year-old Brydon Bryce Whitstone of Onion Lake Cree Nation around 9 PM on the evening of Saturday, October 21, 2017, in North Battleford.

RCMP have reported that they received a call from a man, saying he had been chased and shot at from a vehicle.  Police located the suspected vehicle and gave pursuit until they immobilized the vehicle. During their interaction with the driver shots were fired injuring a man inside the vehicle.  The victim, now identified as Brydon Bryce Whitstone, was pronounced dead at around 9:40 PM, while en route to hospital.

RCMP also report that a woman inside the vehicle suffered minor injuries. She was taken to hospital, but then released into police custody. Neither her condition nor the specific reason she was taken into custody have been reported publicly at this time. Neither has it been reported publicly how many shots were fired by RCMP officers. None of the police claims have been independently confirmed.

There is no independent investigative unit In Saskatchewan to examine cases of police harm to civilians in the province. RCMP Chief Superintendent Maureen Levy has reported that the Regina Police Service is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of Whitstone by RCMP officers.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice will also appoint what it calls an independent observer to oversee the investigation, but such observers are almost always former police officers, so in no way independent. Justice Ministry spokesman Drew Wilby explained at a news conference that in cases were an independent observer is requested, the ministry appoints someone such as a former police officer. Yet, Wilby suggested, incredulously, that, “This individual will not be connected to the RCMP.” But it could well be a fellow officer so no claims of independence have any credibility.

Saskatchewan RCMP are a directly colonial military force. It remains a force of settler colonial military occupation of Indigenous lands and has an ongoing history of violence against Indigenous people and communities.


Police Investigate Police in Saskatchewan Civilian Death (July 5, 2017)

Police in Saskatchewan investigate police. There is no independent civilian oversight body in the province despite ongoing calls from community advocates.

On July 5, 2017, officers of the Blaine Lake Saskatchewan RCMP allegedly responded to a call about a distraught man with a firearm in a rural area. Two officers encountered a man who they say discharged the weapon, resulting in a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was taken to hospital in Saskatoon and pronounced dead there. The Saskatchewan RCMP have requested an investigation into the death, which will be conducted by the Saskatoon Police Service.


Austin Eaglechief (22) Dies After Being Shot by Saskatoon Police, Crashing Vehicle

On June 19, 2017, Saskatoon police shot 22-year-old Austin Eaglechief. The young man then crashed the vehicle he was driving into another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy suggests the gunshot was not the cause of death but it does not speak to the part that being shot played in the fatal crash. A 33-year-old passenger was also injured in the crash. Critics of the police suggest that officers were too quick to shoot the young man. The Saskatoon police force has a history of racist treatment and violence against Indigenous people in the city and nearby locales.


Fatally Injured but Resisted Arrest? Serious Questions over Police Role in Death of Jordan Lafond (Indigenous Victims)

Jordan Bruce Lafond, a 21-year-old father of a small child, died one day after being taken into custody by Saskatoon police following a violent arrest on October 23, 2016. Several weeks later serious questions remain unanswered regarding the role of police violence in causing the young man’s death.

Jordan Lafond’s mother, Charmaine Dreaver is seeking answers to those questions in the face of general silence from Saskatoon police. In her words: “I just want and need the truth to be told,” (quoted in Markewich 2016). Family members have turned to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations special investigations unit and the Chief of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation to discuss possible steps forward.

Jordan Lafond was the passenger in a vehicle that crashed while being chased by police. The driver sustained minimal injuries and ran from the scene. He was later found and charged. Lafond was supposedly found beneath the rear of the vehicle. Police have claimed he was thrown from the vehicle during the crash and was not run over by any vehicle. .

Charmaine Dreaver notes her son showed real physical trauma. In her words: “My son was banged up pretty bad. His body showed signs of a lot of damage” (quoted in Markewich 2016). She has reported being left with a sense of unease and questioning since learning about her son’s injuries. This sense grew upon hearing that the other man in the vehicle who fled was not nearly as badly injured (Markewich 2016). As she recalls: “[That] made me feel that, OK, there’s something more to this” (quoted in Markewich 2016). Police have said that the injuries, including bruising and head trauma were caused by the collision (Markewich 2016). She asked immediately for an autopsy to be undertaken to receive some answers and clarification. She relates: “I was angered and I was so hurt because my son went through so much pain” (quoted in Markewich 2016).

Police have provided the questionable and apparently contradictory explanation that the supposedly fatally injured Lafond resisted arrest to such an extent that an officer felt compelled to use a knee to subdue him. This seems implausible given the supposed degree of injuries police suggest were sustained from the crash alone.

Dreaver finds the explanation questionable as well. She notes: “I almost felt that I was lied to, really, because I didn’t know. I wasn’t told about [it]” (quoted in Markewich 2016).

The autopsy was completed Wednesday, November 2 but results have not been released. Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill has not given the public a timeline for release of the autopsy findings.

 

Further Reading

Markewich, Courtney. 2016. “‘Something More to This’: Saskatoon Mother Seeks Answers in Death of Son Taken into Custody.” CBC News. November 4. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/jordan-lafond-mother-seeks-answers-1.3837678