Ontario’s attorney general asks OPP to investigate death of Rainy River First Nation man in Thunder Bay

Death was deemed “non-criminal” by Thunder Bay police in 2015.

The body of Stacy DeBungee was discovered in 2015.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say they’ve launched an investigation into the death of Stacy DeBungee, 41, who died in Thunder Bay at the request of the attorney general.

The body of the man from Rainy River First Nation was discovered in the McIntryre River in the city on Oct. 19, 2015.

DeBungee was living in Thunder Bay at the time of his death.

Death of Stacy DeBungee
Brad DeBungee (centre), speaking in February 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.

Before an autopsy was performed, Thunder Bay police at the time ruled out foul play, declaring his death as “non-criminal.”

But a review of the case by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a civilian agency that reviews complaints against police in Ontario, called the investigation “inadequate” and concluded that there’s enough evidence to substantiate neglect of duty and misconduct by the lead investigator in the case.

“As (retired deputy police chief Andy Hay) acknowledged, one would have reasonably expected that investigators would be particularly vigilant in ensuring that the investigation of the sudden death of an Indigenous man found in the river was thorough and responsive to the community’s concerns,” reads the report. “Unfortunately, the opposite was true here.”

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Ontario’s attorney general requested that the OPP investigate DeBungee’s death.

“Our intention is to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Stacy DeBungee,” said Det. Insp. Shawn Glassford of the OPP’s criminal investigation branch. “Mr. DeBungee’s family, his friends, his community and the public deserve to know what happened.”

The OPP has set up a tip line at 1-833-533-8477 for people to call with information.

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