Politicians call for inquiry into deadly wellness checks by police

“How it is that a 26-year-old mother, daughter, beautiful Indigenous woman, was shot five times in her own apartment?”

Senators and Green Party MPs are calling for an inquiry into killings during wellness checks because they say those are situations police officers are not equipped to handle.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, at a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday, rhymed off the names of people who recently died when encounters with police turned fatal: Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, Ejas Ahmed-Chowdry and Rodney Levi. Most are people of colour.

She focused, in particular, on the death of Moore in New Brunswick a month ago.

“How it is that a 26-year-old mother, daughter, beautiful Indigenous woman, was shot five times in her own apartment?” May asked.

“Those questions cry out for answers.”

May and Independent Senator Kim Pate are seeking an immediate investigation into Moore’s death and the deaths of others.

Pate said she wants “a quick, a vital decision by the federal government about how we will implement meaningful, transparent, effective oversight of policing and corrections in this country.”

Moore died when police responded to a wellness check.

Green Party MP for New Brunswick Jenica Atwin, who is close with Moore’s family, called for a swift investigation. She said, as a Newbrunswicker, she wants answers for families and a clear path forward.

“We cannot wait over a year for any sort of answer or response on this because the families are waiting,” she told the press conference.

“They have lost loved ones and we owe it to them as parliamentarians and senators and people in government positions to lend our voice to this cause.”

May said police should not be sent to people suffering mental health issues. Both she and Pate are pushing for a Senate inquiry to look into wellness check deaths.

The shootings of Moore and Levi are being investigated by Quebec’s Bureau des Enquites Independants (BEI), but May feels their process is too slow.

“The Quebec BEI has said that they won’t have answers for at least a year. The coroners’ inquests are being postponed until we have answers from the BEI in Quebec. Chantel Moore’s family is desperate for answers.”

APTN News contacted the BEI, which said, on average, its investigations take six to eight months. Probes can take longer depending on the number of witnesses and whether or not the victim of the police violence was committing a crime at the time of the incident.

Then the investigations can be delayed due to the victims’ court dates.

Reports from experts, like ballistics, can also slow the process, as those reports have to be included in the investigators’ final reports.

May suggested the Senate can get answers faster, but won’t resume sitting until September.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.