Tag Archives: shooting

SIU Denies Justice for Tony Divers: Killer Hamilton Cop Cleared Despite Serious Questions

Family and loved ones of Tony Divers have been kept in the dark about the SIU investigation into the police killing of the 36-year-old Hamilton man. On Thursday, August 10, 2017, they received the awful news that the Special Investigations Unit  has cleared the Hamilton officer who shot Tony Divers will not be charged. The decision comes 10 months after the killing on September 30, 2017, a too long period of time in which questions from the family have not been properly addressed.

The officer responsible fired two shots at the unarmed Divers, with one bullet hitting the victim in the chest. Despite the fact that Divers was unarmed, SIU Director Tony Loparco concluded the officer was justified in believing his own life was at risk and in fearing that Divers was armed. Under Loparco the already questionable SIU has become something of a legitimation mechanism for cops who kill civilians.

Yvonne Alexander, Tony Divers’ sister, and a tireless advocate for information and justice, responded with the pained honesty of someone whose loved one has been killed by police: “I’m shocked but I’m not at all surprised. Because it seems to be the norm these days for officers to shoot and kill someone in mental crisis” (quoted in Bennett 2017).

Of particular concern for observers is the report that the call to police included a claim that Divers was  “anti-police.” Did this play into the quick resort to lethal force by Hamilton police?

This is reinforced by Loparco’s  conclusion in the case: “On all of the information that the [officer] had in his possession at the time he shot and killed Mr. Divers, I find that the [officer], subjectively, had reasonable grounds to believe that his life was at risk from Mr. Divers” (quoted in Bennett 2017). Because he was said to be “anti-police?”

Loparco continues: “I find in all the circumstances, that despite the after the fact knowledge that Mr. Divers was not armed, the [officer] reasonably believed that his life was in danger from Mr. Divers and his actions in firing upon Mr. Divers were justified” (quoted in Bennett 2017). This is in keeping with other SIU findings under Loparco.

Loparco further notes in his report that the officer who shot Tony Divers had had previous contact with the victim and considered him “anti-police and very violent” (quoted in Bennett 2017). The officer actually appears to have held several prejudices against Tony Divers, including the assumptions that he was involved in organized crime and a drug user. The SIU report does not delve into these issues in probing detail.

The family says that Tony Divers was struggling with mental health issues when the officer shot him. For the family, this did not matter to police who responded to their loved one through the prejudging lens that held him as simply a thug.

Edward Divers, the victim’s brother, said the decision and explanation for why the shooting is justified felt to him like “an eye for an eye,” that his brother was treated as a “violent thug” with no regard for his mental illness.

One eyewitness, who says he did not see Divers holding any weapon, also said the victim appeared to pose no threat to anyone. Yet he did note that Divers did not seem subservient to the officer, a situation that seems to provoke police violence (respect their authority or die). According to witness Joe Towers: “He didn’t look very afraid of the cop; he wasn’t being cooperative, but he didn’t look like he was any particular threat. It just didn’t seem like he wanted to be arrested” (quoted in Bennett 2017).

Further Reading

Bennett, Kelly. 2017. “SIU Clears Hamilton Officer in Death of Man Shot Near GO Station.” CBC News August 10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/divers-siu-decision-released-1.4204146

 


58-Year-Old Man Shot Multiple Times and Killed by Montreal Police (June 27, 2017)

Montreal police shot and killed a 58-year-old man in the mid-evening of June 27, 2017 outside his home. The man was shot multiple times by police at about 7:19 PM after they were apparently called out because the victim was said to be committing the high crime of destroying things in his own apartment near the corner of Robillard and St-André streets. Police claim they used a taser and rubber bullets on the man before deciding they needed to kill him.

City ambulance services have reported that the victim was in cardiac arrest when he was transported to hospital. The BEI (Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, Bureau of Independent Investigations), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Quebec, is investigating.


Inquest Called Into Quebec Police Killing of 17-Year-Old Brandon Maurice

Brandon Maurice was shot and killed by a Sûreté du Québec officer on November 16, 2015 in Messine (near Maniwaki) following a vehicular pursuit. On May 19, 2017, the province’s chief coroner,  Catherine Rudel-Tessier, ordered an inquest into the teenager’s killing by police. The inquest will be overseen by deputy chief coroner Luc Malouin. It cannot assign blame but can only make recommendations to address future such incidents. These are typically ignored or not implemented by police agencies under review.

Montreal police investigated their provincial colleagues, completing their examination in June 2016. Quite predictably they found for their colleague and concluded that no charges would be brought against their fellow officer. Yet the officer had fired wildly in the general direction of the driver, said to have been Maurice, and only luckily avoided hitting a passenger in the vehicle.

Maurice’s family was not satisfied with that investigation and found it illegitimate for police to be investigating police. In the words of Brandon Maurice’s mother, Dominique Bernier in 2016: “Police officers protect each other.” Indeed they do. The family’s view, quite reasonable, is that  investigations cannot be impartial when police investigate their colleagues. The family believes the officer used force that was excessive for a stopped car starting to drive away from an officer.


Sureté du Québec Kill Man in Beauceville (May 15, 2017)

Eight investigators of Quebec’s BEI (Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, Bureau of Independent Investigations) are examining the police killing of a 41-year-old man in the town of Beauceville, approximately 90 kilometers south of Quebec City. The provincial police, the Sureté du Québec (SQ), claims its officers were responding to a 911 call at around 9:45 AM regarding a domestic dispute. The victim was shot at least once. None of the SQ claims has been independently verified.


ASIRT Stats Show Large Increases in Police Violence, Lethal Force in Alberta

Statistics released by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) show a troubling steady increase in major police-involved incidents of violence, including police killings of civilians over the last decade.

In 2008, the year ASIRT began operations there were 10 cases of police violence that resulted in death or serious injury. In 2016, there were 42 such incidents. These include a range of police actions: police shootings, vehicle pursuits and collisions, use-of-force incidents with no weapon, and injuries caused by use of tasers and police dogs. The ASIRT statistics show nine police shootings that caused death or serious injury in 2013, 10 in 2014, 13 in 2015, and nine in 2016.

As of mid-April, 2017 there are nine police-involved incidents of death or serious injury under investigation in the province; three in Edmonton, three in Calgary, and three in RCMP jurisdictions. Of the three fatalities, one was in Edmonton, involving the Edmonton police department and the other two were RCMP cases. Edmonton has had three police shootings of civilians in March 2017 alone. One was the fatal police shooting of Vitaly Savin, a 55-year-old construction worker with no criminal record, who was targeted by police simply for supposedly driving erratically.

 

Police Incidents Involving Death or Serious Injury (By Year)

Year       Incidents

2008       10

2009       20

2010       18

2011       25

2012       18

2013       27

2014       31

2015       48

2016       42

 

Calgary police had a brutal year in 2016. The Calgary Police Services were responsible for a total of 10 police shootings that year. This stands as the highest total of police shootings of any city in the country. Five of the shootings were fatal and two caused injury. To his discredit the Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin has threatened retribution against whistleblowers in the department who speak to media and has blamed the police violence on a drug panic of his own creation.

Edmonton’s Acting Chief Kevin Brezinski has tried to blame a vaguely constructed “organized crime” and strangely a supposed increase in home invasions. It is not clear how this would have anything to do with his force’s killing of Vitaly Savin for supposed erratic driving.


Police Standoff Ends in Death of 61-Year-Old Man in Quebec (March 24, 2017)

Quebec’s Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI) and Montreal police are investigating after a lengthy standoff in Châteauguay ended with the death of a 61-year-old man early in the morning of Friday, March 24, 2017. Police had surrounded the residence on Rossini Street in what they claim was a standoff beginning apparently around 9 AM Wednesday, March 22. A bailiff had called local police to report being confronted by a man inside and they claim to have secured a perimeter upon arrival. Sûreté du Québec (SQ) took over the scene around 8 PM Wednesday.

SQ report that they heard gunshots from inside the house at around 1:30 AM on Friday. Entering, in their report, 12 minutes later they claim to have found the man’s body inside the house. The SQ’s SWAT team as well as investigators from the provincial force’s major crime squad, those trained in crisis negotiations, were reportedly on the scene but there has been no confirmation of whether they communicated with the victim at any point. The various police accounts have not been independently confirmed.


Killer Cop Eric Deslauriers on Trial for Manslaughter in Killing of David Lacour (17)

On March 22, 2017 trial began for killer Sureté du Quebec (SQ) officer Eric Deslauriers in the killing of 17-year-old David Lacour in Ste. Adele, Quebec on January 22, 2014. Deslauriers shot and killed Lacour after apparently responding to a call about a stolen car. The prosecution argues that Deslauriers shot the teenager rather than have him escape.

It is exceedingly rare for police officers who kill civilians to be subjected to any punishment. Charges are almost never laid and full trials virtually never held. Killer cops are certainly treated to a different, and decidedly favorable response, from the criminal justice system than are civilians who kill. This is in no way surprising. As we have documented repeatedly, the state protects its officers. And there should be no illusions that the state would deliver anything resembling justice in such cases of state (police) violence.