Quebec police under review again after court questioned its impartiality

Since that decisive Wednesday in July 2018, Tracy Wing has been trying to understand the moment that led to her son’s death.

Riley Fairholm Quebec police shot and killed They were answering a 911 call, saying that someone was walking around with a gun. He is 17 years old.

In 2019, Quebec prosecutors announced that they would not bring any charges against the police, but many details of how the case was handled are still unclear.

Wing said that Quebec’s police monitoring agency, the Bureau of Independent Investigation (BEI), was not transparent in its investigation, and the family is still waiting for basic documents to understand what happened.

“I haven’t got a BEI report. It’s been almost three years. I don’t have an autopsy. I don’t have toxicology. [result]. I have nothing,” Wing said in an interview.

Neither fair nor transparent

A kind Court decision this week Questioning the transparency and impartiality of BEI again, BEI handles cases involving civilians who were seriously injured or killed in police operations.

Quebec court judge Louis Riverin discovered that in the Koray Celik case, the investigating agency made a mistake in communicating with the public. He died after police intervention in 2017.

The Celik family has filed a lawsuit alleging that BEI’s misleading press release 18 months after Koray’s death caused mental damage. The Royal Prosecutor of Quebec later decided not to charge the police.

In the ruling, Riverin stated that BEI’s public statement in August 2018 was written only from the perspective of the police and did not mention the version of the incident reported by family members who witnessed the quarrel.

The judge wrote: “If only one version is released, that is, the version of the police involved in the case, don’t we risk publishing half-truths, distorting reality, and undermining public confidence?”

The Bureau of Independent Investigation (BEI) was established in June 2016 to investigate cases where civilians were seriously injured or died during police operations. (Charles Conte/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

The family received $30,000 in compensation. Another lawsuit against the city of Montreal was put on hold, pending investigation by the coroner.

Wing also gave BEI in its Preliminary statement About the death of her son.

BEI stated that the police had performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation to save her son. In fact, this is not the case.The watchdog issues a correction Earlier this year After she complained.

“This makes me believe or suspect that there is still something missing in their investigation,” Wing said, who is also waiting for the coroner to investigate the death of her son.

The importance of the first official account

Lynda Khelil is a long-time activist and representative of the human rights organization Ligue des droits et libertés. She said that the judge’s decision is a test of what the family and advocates have said over the years.

“The government needs to take action to transform BEI into an independent, impartial and transparent organization,” Khelil said.

She said that public opinion consisted of a preliminary description of the incident, while the preliminary statement issued by BEI after the shooting was based solely on police statements. Khelil believes that BEI should at least clearly state this.

She said that the statement announcing the end of the investigation should include a more comprehensive description of the evidence and testimony collected.

Nicholas Gibbs was shot and killed by police in response to the riots in 2018. The family is still waiting for information about the investigation and whether the charges will be filed. (Anne-Marie Provost / Radio-Canada)

Ligue 1 highlighted BEI’s communication problems in a report last year 60 page report Check the performance of the regulatory agency since its establishment in 2016.

The report also criticized BEI’s close relationship with the police (most of its investigators are former police, and the Quebec Police Force assists in the recruitment process), rather than sanctions officials who fail to cooperate with the investigation and prolong the delay. the whole process.

The death of Nicholas Gibbs Killed by the police Advocates said that after they were called into riots in 2018, this was another case plagued by delays. The investigation was completed the following year, but the family is still waiting for the prosecutor to file charges.

No allegations related to police shooting

Since its establishment, BEI has completed 174 serious injury or death investigations involving the police. No one has been charged.

In contrast, the police have conducted 180 criminal investigations into suspected illegal activities, 13 of which have been prosecuted.

Neither BEI nor the Quebec Ministry of Public Security responded to requests for comment.

Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, a Montreal lawyer, represented several families after a relative was shot and killed by the police. (Radio Canada)

Virginie Dufresne-Lemire has represented several families before BEI in cases, including Celiks, and she hopes that the verdict will force the government to make changes, starting with the way it communicates with the public.

In Dufresne-Lemire’s view, the original intention of an independent and transparent investigative agency is good, and the recent court ruling provides the beginning of a roadmap for how to achieve this goal.

“I think if we can have independence, transparency, and fairness, I think that will be great. This will be what we want and it should be.”

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