Tag Archives: transparency

Caleb Tubila Njoko (26) Dies After “Fall” From Balcony During London Police Operation (May 4, 2020) Black Lives Matter

It has been announced that Caleb Tubila Njoko, a 26-year-old Black man who reportedly fell from a 15th floor balcony during a police operation in London, Ontario, on May 4, 2020, has died. Mr. Njoko died on May 8, but his death was only confirmed by the Special Investigations Unit on June 3. There has been no public explanation for the delay in this.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating. They report that London police responded to 85 Walnut Street on May 4 at around 11:15 PM on a call of a person in distress. Officers entered an apartment on the 15th floor and, at some point, the victim “fell” from a balcony. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and died there four days later.

This is the second Black person to have been killed in what is reported publicly as a fall from a balcony during a police operation in Ontario in May alone. On May 27, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman, was killed in a “fall” from an apartment balcony in Toronto. Family members and witnesses report that she was shoved off the balcony by Toronto police. Because police control the information that is released when they kill, their version of events must be treated with skepticism and there is a real need to hear from witnesses, if any were present.

Notably, both of these deaths involved police interventions against someone in distress. Police are not suitable for mental health care or interacting with people in distress. Proper health supports and care are needed but are denied resources when those resources go instead to police budgets.

The SIU has assigned one subject officer and three witness officers to its probe. One might ask why the SIU has designated one subject officer if the incident was straightforwardly a “fall.”


Family Members Report Regis Korchinski-Paquet Killed by Toronto Police (May 27, 2020) Black Lives Matter

Family members and witnesses have reported that Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman, was killed by being shoved off an apartment balcony by Toronto police on the evening of May 27, 2020. They also report that there was interference by police in preventing them from getting their story to mass media.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario is examining the case. According to the SIU, police claim they were called to an apartment building near High Park Avenue and Bloor Street West, at around 5:15 PM. The SIU say that when officers entered a unit on the 24th floor, “A short time later, the woman fell from the balcony to the ground below.”

Witnesses, including the victim’s mother, say that this is not what happened and that Regis Korchinski-Paquet was shoved by officers. Witnesses also claim that her body was left on the ground below for a substantial amount of time. We know in case after case of police killings of civilians that the word of police when they kill is to be treated with the highest degree of skepticism. Families who have had to suffer the brutality of seeing a loved one killed by police need to be listened to and believed.

The SIU has assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to the killing.

For a video report by family members see: https://twitter.com/YAMAGUCHlll/status/1265841816462602240


Man Dies in RCMP Siege at Home in Chilliwack (May 23-24, 2020)

An RCMP siege at a home in Chilliwack, British Columbia, has left one man dead, The circumstances are still unclear, with reports shifting as the event unfolded over several hours overnight on the evening of May 23 and morning of may 24, 2020.

It has been reported that RCMP were called regarding a distraught man at a home in the 46000 block of Christina Drive, at around 5:30 PM on May 23. Initial reports said the man fired a shot or shots when police arrived. That has not been confirmed publicly. It has also been reported that more officers, an emergency response team, a crisis negotiator, and a police helicopter were also deployed to the scene. Nearby homes were allegedly evacuated.

The story is even less clear regarding a supposed interaction between the man and police, after about six hours, when police, for some reason fired shots as the man exited the home. He then ran back inside the home.

It is reported that a police robot was used to enter the home and search it, finding the man unresponsive. He died at the scene.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia is examining the events resulting in the man’s death.


54-Year-Old Man Dies in Police Custody in The Pas, Manitoba (Oct. 5-6, 2019)

A 54-year-old man has died in police custody in The Pas, Manitoba, a town about 600 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg. According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, police arrested the man after responding to a call about an intoxicated person on October 5, 2019. He was put in a cell at the RCMP detachment at around 7 PM. The man was found unresponsive in his cell the next morning. According to the IIU, emergency medical services attended and pronounced the man dead in the detachment. Police and jail cells are not appropriate responses for someone dealing with substance use issues.


License to Kill: Killer Cop Elizabeth Cucheran Let Off by Crown for Hudson Brooks Killing

When it comes to police killings of civilians, the state protects the state. This is not surprising given that police are the force of brute violence (the state’s monopoly on violence) which always accompanies and underpins the state’s legislative (ideological) face. Law and force go hand in hand.

On July 18, 2015, RCMP Constable Elizabeth Cucheran shot 20-year-old Hudson Brooks nine times outside the RCMP detachment in South Surrey, killing him. The Constable fired a dozen times at the youth, who was shirtless and shoeless and in some mental health distress. On September 18, 2019, more than four years later, the British Columbia prosecution service announced that charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon had been stayed against Constable Cucheran.

That the killer cop did not even face charges of murder or manslaughter for shooting an unarmed youth nine times and that it took more than four years to reach this decision shows the special manner with which police who kill are treated by the state in Canada.

Even more, in announcing their the prosecution service chose to emphasize that “the law is clear that even the mistaken belief in the need to use lethal force is a complete defence.” Killer cops always have this excuse, no matter how unjustified, ludicrous, or unsubstantiated, at their ready disposal. It is all they ever need to kill when they want, under whatever conditions they themselves alone decide. Police define the circumstances and they define reasonableness. Even if they are mistaken or lying. Few prosecutors, who depend on police for their cases (and who also uphold the state as do police), will ever challenge them. It is literally a license to kill.

This case earlier showed as well the way in which police lie after they kill someone to suggest that the victim posed a greater threat than they did. To blame the victim. Initial RCMP statements suggested that there had been an exchange of gunfire and an officer was also shot. This gave a public impression that Brooks had been armed and there had been some sort of gunfight between the victim and officers. It was later revealed that Constable Cucheran, in a lethal panic, had shot herself among the 12 shots she fired.


Woman Falls to Death with RCMP Present in Surrey, British Columbia (Aug. 13, 2019)

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in British Columbia, is investigating after a woman fell to her death in the presence of RCMP officers on August 13, 2019 in Surrey, British Columbia.

The IIO report that RCMP responded to an apartment complex in the 14000 block of 103A Avenue regarding a woman on the edge of a ninth floor balcony. Police entered the building, and, at some point, the woman fell. She died on the scene. No other details have been released publicly.

This is the second IIO investigation of RCMP in a matter of days. Police shot a man on 135A Street in Whalley on August 14.


Man Dies in Police Custody in Amherst, Nova Scotia (June 30, 2019)

The Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the death of a man in police custody in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It has been reported that officers allegedly took a man, whose age has not been released publicly, to the police department on the morning of June 29, 2019, because they assumed he was drunk. At some point while the man was detained in a holding cell medical assistance was called. The man was taken to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, where he died of his medical issues on Sunday, June 30.


Victim of Winnipeg Police Identified as Randy Cochrane of Fisher River Cree Nation (July 14, 2019)

The family of a man who died during an arrest by Winnipeg police has identified him as Randy Cochrane, a 30-year-old father of three. Family members are calling for answers into what happened during the arrest and why there appear to be discrepancies in what police reported and what doctors in the hospital emergency have said.

Randy Cochrane’s cousin Monica Murdock asks pointedly:

“My family’s devastated. We want to know what happened to him. Why did he die in cuffs? Why were they chasing him? Why are they saying he was bloody but the doctors we went and saw at the emergency room last night said that he had no injuries? (quoted in Grabish 2019)

Murdock reports that doctors at the Health Sciences Centre told her family on Sunday, after Cochrane died, that the young man had suffered a heart attack and had a high fever. She also reports that they told her there were no other injuries on his body. She says that doctors informed her that it was too late by the time Cochrane arrived at the hospital at 4:30 PM because he had been without a pulse for some time (Grabish 2019).

Murdock describes her cousin as “a fierce protector of his family” and she says “he was more like a brother to her” (2019). She relates fondly: “He always made sure we were protected. We were safe. The last time I saw him he came to my house and he gave me some money for my baby ‘cause my daughter’s in the hospital” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

Marjorie Cochrane raised Randy after adopting him. She remembers:

“He was really always close to his daughters. It’s hard. Taking it hard” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

She too has important questions for police: “What happened when they handcuffed him?” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

A witness, Will Couture, says Cochrane, rather than being a threat, appeared to be shouting for help while running from something or someone (2019). Couture reports that the man, kept repeating “help me, help me” (Grabish 2019). He then saw police chase Cochrane across the street.

Couture claims that the man looked “freaked out.” In his words: “Just scared. Just like terrified of something you know what I mean? It was like the devil was chasing him” (quoted in Grabish 2019).

If it was the police, he may be completely right in that.

 

Further Reading

Grabish, Austin. 2019. “Family Demands Answers after Father of 3 Dies in Police Custody.” CBC News July 15. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/police-custody-death-north-end-winnipeg-1.5212209


Thirty-Year-Old Man Dies During Arrest by Winnipeg Police (July 14, 2019)

According to the Independent Investigations Unit of Manitoba, the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, the arrest occurred in the city’s North End, around Flora Avenue and Parr Street. Police allegedly saw a man they believed to be bleeding and armed with a weapon and chased him on foot, catching him not far away. During the arrest the man became unresponsive. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. It has not been conformed publicly that the man was bleeding prior to the arrest.


Indigenous Father Geoff Morris (41) Killed by Regina Police (May 4, 2019).

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for an independent investigation after the killing of Geoff Morris (41) by Regina Police Service officers on May 4, 2019. In a news release, FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat noted that,

“We have seen officers investigating their fellow officers and we all know how those investigations turn out. We are calling on the Regina Police Service to allow for an outside and independent oversight body to be a part of this investigation. We have been calling for this for years and these senseless police-related deaths keep happening.”

Morris was shot and killed by Regina police, during what cops say was a hostage situation. There are reasons to be skeptical about this given the lack of public information around another recent alleged hostage-taking in which two people were killed by RCMP in Surrey, British Columbia in March 2019. In that case it was later revealed that police had shot and killed both people, including the alleged hostage Nona McEwan. Notably, Regina Police chief Evan Bray would not say whether an alleged hostage was still being held when the shooting occurred.

Indeed, the police justification of events is being contradicted by Morris’ fiancé, Jasmine Brass, who says she was present when Morris was killed. In her words: “Honestly it wasn’t necessary for them to kill him, they could’ve just tased him” (quoted in Melnychuck 2019). She reports that Morris had been struggling with mental health issues and that she and her sister were with Morris trying to help him the morning he was killed by police.

Brass also reports that he became more agitated when police arrived, a not uncommon occurrence as the appearance of police typically heightens tensions and stress. She gives a chilling account, saying on facebook that she heard a “bang” and felt a splatter of blood at the moment of killing. Incredibly Brass reports that police shot Morris while she sat between his legs.

Morris was biological father to four children. He also took in six other children and raised them. One daughter, Tanisha Whiteman, remembers him as a good, loving man who struggled with anxiety issues. She asks why police acted so quickly to kill. In her words:

“That’s somebody’s father. That’s somebody’s son. That’s somebody’s brother, somebody’s nephew. He was loved by so many people. Why? Just like that, he’s gone. There could have been other ways that could have been handled. They didn’t have to take someone’s life away (quoted in Whitfield 2019a).

Heartbreaking words about the role played by police came from 12-year-old son Nakayoh Friday: “I want people to know that the people who were supposed to protect us aren’t protecting us. They are killing us. I don’t want other families to go through my pain” (quoted in Whitfield 2019b).

According to Regina Police chief Evan Bray, legislation requires that the Regina Police Service’s Major Crime unit investigates the shooting. Cops investigating cops. The officer involved in the shooting was a member of the patrol response remains on active duty.

Regina police claim that the killing of Morris is the first killing by an officer in the city since 1998. Police also claim that there have been four officer-involved shootings in the last 10 years, with none of those resulting in the death of the victim.

 

Further Reading

Melnychuck, Mark. 2019. “Fiancee of Man Shot by Regina Police Questions Why Officer Used Lethal Force.” Regina Leader-Post May 6. https://www.journalpioneer.com/news/canada/fiancee-of-man-shot-by-regina-police-questions-why-officer-used-lethal-force-308570/

Whitfield, Janani. 2019a. “’He Didn’t Deserve to Die Like That’: Man Killed by Regina Police Was a ‘Family Man.’” CBC News May 5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/hostage-taking-incident-regina-geoff-morris-1.5124018

Whitfield, Janani. 2019b. “Children of Man Shot Dead by Regina Police Say He Was Close to Turning Life Around.” CBC News May 7. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-shooting-police-death-1.5126084