Protest calls for suspension of London police officer found guilty in death of Oneida mother Debralee Chrisjohn

100 people turn out after constable remains employed on administrative duty

Supporters joined family of Debralee Chrisjohn on Sunday in a march to demand the suspension of a London, Ont. police officer who remains on administrative duty despite being found guilty of crimes related to her death.

“I know Debra, and I know her family,” said event organizer Lacey Weekes. “She was actually a very lovely woman and the family is really frustrated and they needed someone to kind of make a little bit of noise and awareness to what is actually going on here.”

Over 100 supporters turned out for a march to London Police Services.

Chrisjohn died in police custody hours after being apprehended in September 2016.

In November 2019, Const. Nicholas Doering was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death as well as failing to provide the necessaries of life to the late mother of 11 from Oneida of the Thames.

“Const. Doering demonstrated a wanton and reckless disregard for Ms. Chrisjohn’s life,” Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance wrote then in her verdict. “His conduct … represented a marked and substantial departure from the standard of care. It was a contributing cause of Ms. Chrisjohn’s death.”

Doering’s sentencing was supposed to be in January 2020. But that was delayed till March. It was delayed again due to COVID-19.

There’s still no word on when that sentencing will happen.

Since then, Doering has remained employed by London police.

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Joel Abram, grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians says he knows the family and feels for their concerns.

“You know, you’ve seen a lot of people get fired for saying just one racist thing on social media. They’re fired, but apparently you can be responsible for someone’s death and you’re fine as long as you’re a police officer. So, I think that just kind of speaks to the degree of change that’s needed,” he said.

Debralee’s sister Cindy Chrisjohn wants the London police chief to suspend Doering.

“He was convicted of those crimes. We are still waiting,” she said.

In an email, London police said they could not comment on the matter as it remains before the courts

Police said that a separate investigation into his alleged misconduct under the Police Services Act will take place when that concludes.

Weekes said an apology from the service would help to begin healing.

“Being a police officer is hard but if you’re a police officer and you know that something your co-worker has done is wrong and you’re silent about it or complicit, what does that say about you?” said Weekes.

“Are you really there to help people?”

Allana is a graduate of the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University and the new media journalism program at Sheridan College. She worked at Sudbury.com and TVO before coming to APTN National News where she now covers Indigenous stories in Southern Ontario as a video journalist. McDougall is a member of Hiawatha First Nation.