Office of the Chief Coroner re-investigating death of Stacy DeBungee

Spokesperson with the Office of the Chief Coroner confirmed a new investigation is underway but is not yet complete.

Death of Stacy DeBungee

Brad DeBungee (centre), along with Rainy River First Nation chief, Rob McGinnis (right) and past chief, Jim Leonard, speaks about how he feels validated following the release of a report the OIPRD that substantiated allegations of misconduct by Thunder Bay Police’s investigation into the death of his brother, Stacy. Photo: TB Newswatch.

The death of a Rainy River First Nation man who died in Thunder Bay in 2015 is being re-investigated, a spokesperson with the province’s chief coroner confirmed Tuesday.

The Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) identified nine deaths for re-investigation and directed that an assessment be made as to whether the death of Stacy DeBungee also be re-investigated, Stephanie Rea with the Office of the Chief Coroner said Feb. 2.

“The re-investigation team has done that and determined the best way forward was to do the re-investigation itself,” Rea said in an emailed statement.

The new investigation is not yet complete and no further details were provided.

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Police watchdog recommends reopening nine Indigenous sudden death investigations in Thunder Bay after review

The OIPRD, which oversees complaints against police in Ontario, found officers on the case ignored or neglected important leads and that racism may have influenced handling of the investigation.

It concluded there were “probably grounds to support an allegation of neglect of duty.”

For the full Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service report released in December 2018, go here.

McNeilly said he initiated the systemic review of TBPS after he received complaints about the 2015 death investigation of DeBungee.

“Indigenous leaders and community members told me that TBPS investigations of Indigenous deaths and other interactions with police devalued Indigenous lives, reflected differential treatment and were based on racist attitudes and stereotypical preconceptions about Indigenous people,” McNeilly said when the report was released.

The OIPRD reviewed DeBungee’s death investigation and found two TBPS investigators guilty of discredible conduct last winter.

Karen Edwards is a local journalism initiative reporter in Thunder Bay. 

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