Despite testimony suggesting that Rodney Levi died by a phenomenon known as suicide by cop, his family, for the duration of the coroner’s inquest maintained that it wasn’t.
On Friday, the coroner’s jury agreed.
Rhoda Levi, Rodney’s sister, was happy with the jury’s decision,
“They looked at it in a broad sense, not what most of the RCMP witnesses had to say,” she said after the jury delivered its findings. “That was the hardest thing of hearing my brother’s suicide by cop, suicide by cop.”
Levi, 48, from Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick, was shot and killed by the RCMP on June 12, 2020.
Officers testified that they had no choice but to kill Levi, who was holding two knives.
But one expert witness said officers could have made other choices that may have avoided the shooting.
One psychiatrist who examined Levi’s file said that his death seemed like a suicide.
In the end, the five-member coroner’s jury ruled that his death was a homicide.
The jury issued a long list of recommendations Friday that includes the need to reinstate the Indigenous band constable program and to locate detox centres in First Nations communities.
Jurors are recommending that RCMP officers not be first responders during wellness checks but should be on standby.
The jury is also calling for greater suicide intervention training for the RCMP and for the acceleration of programs across the country to equip officers with body cameras.
The shooting was investigated by Quebec’s police watchdog, the Bureau des enquetes independantes, and New Brunswick prosecutors determined the officers on the scene believed their lives were at risk because Levi would not drop the knives, and were justified in killing him.
Coroner John Evans told the jury Thursday they had to decide whether Levi’s death was a homicide, a suicide or whether neither could be determined.
The jury heard from 27 people over five days of testimony.