People hold signs in solidarity during a rally for justice for Ejaz Choudry, a 62-year-old man who was recently killed in a Peel Regional Police-involved shooting, in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday, June 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

People hold signs in solidarity during a rally for justice for Ejaz Choudry, a 62-year-old man who was recently killed in a Peel Regional Police-involved shooting, in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday, June 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Four of 55 reviews into police shootings completed in 2020; one officer charged

Experts say it is common for an investigation into a police shooting to take months or more than a year

Experts say it takes time to properly investigate a police shooting — even when the public is calling for quick results — but details on the outcome must be more transparent.

Of 55 police shootings that resulted in death or injury in Canada in the first 11 months of this year, four investigations were completed by Nov. 30.

One officer was charged.

Ontario’s police watchdog charged a Peel Regional Police officer in July in a shooting that injured Chantelle Krupka, a 34-year-old Black woman, on Mother’s Day. The officer, who has since resigned, faces charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm.

In mid-November, Nova Scotia’s police watchdog ruled the August shooting of a 25-year-old man, who allegedly approached officers while holding a knife, was justified. The man, who was not identified, was injured.

The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia found in October that officers were justified in the fatal shooting of homeless advocate Barry Shantz in January. Officers had responded to a request for a wellness check that indicated Shantz was armed and suicidal. The investigation found officers negotiated with Shantz for hours before he came out of the house with a shotgun.

In Nunavut, Attachie Ashoona was shot and killed by RCMP in February. The Ottawa Police Service investigated and, in August, said there was no basis for charges. Almost no information about what happened was released. Soon after, the territory announced it plans to create its own civilian police review agency.

Experts say it is common for an investigation into a police shooting to take months or more than a year. But during that time, there can be damage to a community’s trust in police.

Erick Laming, who is from the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, is a PhD candidate in criminology at the University of Toronto and one of the co-authors of a use-of-force study for the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He says even one shooting can have wide-reaching implications, especially on marginalized communities.

That’s why there must be transparency, Laming says. “It can impact that community for years.”

There has been a significant public distrust of police in Nunavut for a long time. RCMP killed Inuit sled dogs between the 1950s and 1970s as part of a federal plan to have people abandon their traditional lifestyles.

The distrust is compounded, Laming says, when a southern police force flies in to investigate shootings, clears officers, and keeps reports confidential.

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, says he understands it takes time to investigate a police shooting. But if the public is asked to have patience, police forces and investigative bodies need to be transparent about the outcomes.

There is evidence that lack of transparency around police shootings erodes trust, he says.

“It decreases levels of trust and confidence in police among those people who perceive that action to be unjust.”

READ MORE: Victoria police officer justified in discharge of less-lethal weapon, says police watchdog

Kelly Geraldine Malone and Meredith Omstead, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Police

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Salmon Arm's budget for 2021 includes funding for design work for the renovation of the recreation centre. (File photo)
Covid funding helps Salmon Arm city council reduce tax increase for 2021

Roads to receive needed work this year, pool upgrade design to commence

Columbia Shuswap Regional District staff reviewed its policies around health and safety after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. (File photo)
CSRD reviews COVID-19 policy after employee tests positive

City of Salmon Arm says only one of its staff has tested positive since March

Salmon Arm Secondary student Karly Irmen collected almost 300 lbs of food for the Salvation Army Food bank and dropped it off on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Secondary student organizes 295-lb food bank donation

A large amount of clothes was also collected to support local Salvation Army

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Most Read