Tag Archives: SIU

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

 


SIU Investigates What Cops Claim as “Sudden Death” of Shawn Davis in Chatham

Killer cops, their forces, and their police associations are regularly coming up with euphemisms and bogus “conditions” to excuse or legitimize their killings. The litany includes “excited delirium,” “suicide by cop,” and the mystical “sudden death.” The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians is investigating a case that police are calling “sudden death” in Chatham, Ontario on July 26, 2017.

Sometime on the night of July 25, Chatham-Kent police responded to a 911 call allegedly involving a domestic dispute. According to the SIU police remained outside the house on Greenfield Lane for quite some time.

Then the storyline jumps dramatically with no explanation. The SIU reports police entered the house at around 7:00 AM and—huge jump here—a 52-year old man, since identified as Shawn Davis, was pronounced dead at the scene (killed?, found dead?, etc.?). No one is saying. But sudden death does not cut it.

CKPS Constable Kelly Helbin said police would not release any other information. This only adds to the sense of police acting suspiciously in this case.


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.


Absurd Identity Confusion as SIU Lets off Cop who Killed “John Doe”

Police kill someone they are supposedly looking for to add to an offender registry. They have supposedly arrested him before. Yet even after an SIU investigation into his killing it is announced that they do not know who he is. These curious questions of identity linger after the SIU announced that it would not press charges against the officer who shot and killed John Doe in a bush area near some train tracks in North York, suburban Toronto.

The unnamed man (who police claim is unknown despite appearing to know him) was killed on June 17, 2016 . he was shot by police along railway tracks between Weston Road and Highway 400 in the city’s north. The killing was apparently witnessed by two members from the Canadian Pacific Police Service and 10 more witness officers. The subject officer, who has not been named either but one can surmise is also known to police, fired five rounds at the man who had supposedly been camping near the tracks.

In June 2016, at the time of the killing, an SIU release identified the man as 42 years old. The July 12, 2017 report now says that “despite the SIU’s best efforts, the Unit has not been able to establish the man’s actual identity.” It now suggests his age is unknown. Yet, the SIU report also lists knowledge of two of the unknown man’s prior interactions with police, including a January 2012 incident when he was apparently shot multiple times, and a March 2015 incident. The 2012 SIU release identified that John Doe as 38 years old. Now his name and age are unknown. Was it the same guy? No one with the state seems ready to clarify.

Police reports suggest variously that officers were going to serve him with notice for failing to register with the provincial sex offender registry (even though no one knew his name anyway) or that they were going to arrest him for trespassing on the railway’s property. Either or both? Was he killed for trespassing? Why did CP police not deal with someone trespassing on their property themselves?


SIU Investigates Death of Man Following Call from Police

The Special Investigations Unit, the institution that investigates cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is examining the death of a Smiths Falls, Ontario man who apparently shot himself after receiving a phone call from a police officer threatening arrest for undisclosed reasons. On June 3, 2017, an officer of the Ontario Provincial Police phoned the man and spoke to him of a pending arrest, according to the SIU media release. At about 3:20 PM that same day, the man called 911, reporting that he had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Paramedics and police responded and the man was airlifted to the Civic Hospital in Ottawa. He would die there of his injuries on June 9, pronounced dead at 7:47 PM. The SIU has assigned three investigators and two forensic investigators to examine the circumstances of the man’s death. Nothing has been released publicly about the nature of the police call to the man or the reasons such a call might have been made or such an approach taken by police.


Toronto Police Report Claims None Died from Tasers in 2016, Despite Killing of Rui Nabico

A 2017 Toronto police report on Taser use in 2016 claims that no one died from Tasers in 2016 despite the fact that the Special Investigations Unit, the agency that examines police harm to civilians, is still investigating the death of 31-year-old Rui Nabico. On November 4, 2016, Nabico went into medical distress after Toronto police fired a stun gun at him. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The young man only went into medical distress after being Tasered so the Toronto police report is clearly false. A piece of copaganda.


Toronto Cops Who Killed Devon LaFleur Let Off by SIU

As documented through this project, police in Canada have a brutal tendency to deploy quick, lethal force against people dealing with mental health issues. Too often police rather than health care providers are dispatched to encounter people in distress. And routinely they show up ready, even predisposed, to kill. And there is no consequence for their doing so.

Devon LaFleur, a 30-year-old man struggling with mental health issues was shot multiple time by Toronto police on March 4, 2016 outside a house on Bayview Avenue near Steeles Avenue East. More than a year later, on June 6, 2017 the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) let off the cops who killed him. A press release from SIU director Tony Loparco states the agency’s conclusion that the killing was justified. Such is becoming standard practice for Loparco and the SIU.

Toronto police had been tipped off to look for LaFleur by Ottawa police who informed Toronto police that he may be holding a weapon, which they knew to be a pellet gun. Four officers confronted the victim as he exited a cab with a friend. Three of the officers started shooting at him, hitting him eight times. He was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital where he was declared dead. The item he held turned out to be a CO2 pellet gun, as Ottawa police had suggested.

This project has recently documented the fact that Toronto police are developing a habit of shooting and killing people said to be holding pellet guns. No explanation is given by the SIU how it is justifiable for police to shoot someone multiple times, killing them, when it is known ahead of time they are only holding an air gun. And none is really required. The state protects the state in cases of police killings of civilians.

Incredibly SIU director Loparco makes a claim that, echoing police propaganda, suggests that being someone experiencing mental health issues itself made LaFleur a threat. In Loparco’s stunning words: “As soon as the man exited the vehicle, he posed a threat to the officers present.” This reflects the police view of people struggling with mental health issues. That the SIU director would take such a position is telling.