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

Firefighters respond to a fire on Heatherly Road in Colwood Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy of View Royal Fire Rescue)
December and January, so far, have seen their share of rain. (Black Press Media file photo)
Potential for snow in Greater Victoria after unusually wet December, January

Winter is on the way, says Environment and Climate Change Canada

Local MP Elizabeth May says the federal government needs to revise its rules around allowing freighters to anchor in and around the Gulf Islands. (Black Press Media File)
MP Elizabeth May promises to press new transportation minister on issues important to Vancouver Island

Key issues include anchoring freightes, southern resident killer whales and fate of local bus line

Royal Bay Secondary School (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke School District alerts community to coronavirus positive case at Royal Bay secondary

Contact tracing underway after potential COVID-19 exposure Jan. 15

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Officials say there’s not enough Vancouver Island eggs to meet demand

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling, supply needed from off-Island

A Courtenay resident labours to remove the snow build-up from around her car in February 2019. The area may see snow throughout the coming weekend. Black Press file photo
Snow, winter might not be done with Vancouver Island quite yet

Flurries, snow and cold temps predicted for the weekend for mid-Island

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Most Read