Indigenous man fatally shot by RCMP was troubled however not violent, says chief

MIRAMICHI, N.B. – The chief of a New Brunswick First Nation says an Indigenous man shot and killed by the RCMP was troubled, however not a violent particular person.

Chief Invoice Ward of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation stated Rodney Levi should not have change into the province’s second sufferer of a deadly police taking pictures in lower than a month on Friday.

“He had his demons however he was at all times very pleasant, he by no means tried to hurt anyone,” Ward stated throughout an emotional Fb occasion on Saturday.

Ward says Levi visited his house Friday and talked about wanting to maneuver to Fort McMurray, Alta., for a contemporary begin.

He stated Levi was a slight man who tried to get a psychological well being evaluation at a neighborhood hospital just lately, however was refused. Ward stated Levi had hassle sleeping within the days earlier than the incident.

“He isn’t a violent man. He might need poached some salmon however that is it,” Ward stated from the group about 30 kilometres west of Miramichi.

The RCMP have been referred to as after Levi went to a barbecue with the minister’s household at his church in a bid for assist, knowledge and steering.

Nonetheless, Ward stated police informed him that Levi had two knives in his sweater and threatened officers.

Ward stated Levi was shot by a comparatively new officer with little expertise in the neighborhood as a substitute of a veteran officer who would have de-escalated the confrontation.

“He wasn’t in the precise way of thinking at that time of time. He wasn’t a violent particular person, so principally to me what it says is that should you’re mentally ailing and you’ve got a foul day, the cops can kill you for it,” stated Ward.

“I simply need to protect his reminiscence and never let individuals twist the story to justify what they did,” he stated, taking a number of breaks to regain his composure.

The RCMP stated officers responded to a grievance about an “undesirable man” in a house close to the group at 7:40 p.m. native time on Friday.

“When police arrived, they have been confronted by a person who was carrying knives,” stated RCMP Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh.

She stated officers used a stun gun a number of occasions however have been unable to subdue the person.

An officer then discharged a firearm. The suspect was declared lifeless in hospital round 9 p.m.

On June four, Chantel Moore, 26, died after being shot by an Edmundston Police Division officer. Moore, from a First Nation in British Columbia, had moved to the group to be close to her mom and six-year-old daughter.

Police have stated an officer performing a wellness verify allegedly encountered a lady with a knife.

“It is a global catastrophe whenever you discuss racism,” Roger Augustine, the regional chief representing New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, stated in an interview.

“Racism is in every single place. It is like a virus, like COVID-19. That is how I see racism. It simply seeps by means of the communities and kills the younger individuals, and the outdated individuals.”

Quebec’s unbiased police investigation company, the Bureau des enquetes independantes, is investigating each shootings. New Brunswick doesn’t have an analogous company, explaining why the Quebec group is concerned.

On Saturday, the bureau defined in an unsigned assertion that it had accepted a request by New Brunswick authorities to find out the circumstances surrounding the dying of a 48-year-old man throughout an RCMP intervention.

The watchdog stated it’s liable for informing for preserving in contact with household and whereas the knowledge is confidential to the bureau, the household consultant can select to share it as they see match.

The BEI stated it would submit a report back to the coroner overseeing the probe and the New Brunswick Public Prosecution Service to find out whether or not fees will probably be laid.

“It will likely be as much as these authorities to make the BEI report public or not, relying on the relevant laws,” the Quebec company stated.

Levi’s dying prompted scores of emotional reactions from members of the group.

My bro Rodney Levi, my childhood pal … Bought tears in my eyes considering how this occurred,“ wrote Dwayne Everett Ward.

“Shot twice by the police … I pray for all your loved ones, I do know they’re hurting proper now … I am overwhelmed with disappointment about all this.”

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs tweeted his condolences on Saturday to households, associates and communities affected.

“I’m deeply saddened to be taught of an incident final night time on the Metepenagiag First Nation that resulted within the dying of a person,” Higgs stated.

There have been calls since for a broader inquiry to look at systemic bias in opposition to Indigenous individuals within the province’s policing and legal justice methods.

Jake Stewart, New Brunswick’s minister of Aboriginal affairs, has stated he helps the decision, saying the province has an issue with systemic racism towards Indigenous individuals.

On Friday, the commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki, issued a press release saying it’s her accountability to make sure the RCMP is freed from racism, discrimination and bias.

She additionally stated she struggled with the idea of systemic racism when requested concerning the challenge.

“I did acknowledge that we, like others, have racism in our group, however I didn’t say definitively that systemic racism exists within the RCMP,” she stated. “I ought to have.”

“As many have stated, I do know that systemic racism is a part of each establishment, the RCMP included. All through our historical past and immediately, now we have not at all times handled racialized and Indigenous individuals pretty.”

Augustine stated “systemic racism shouldn’t be owned by the RCMP.”

“And it isn’t owned by any authorities in any nation. Systemic racism is one thing that needs to be addressed by the group itself, and on this case it is New Brunswick. Racism exists in all peoples. Racism is about judging individuals. When (you) stroll down the streets and also you see somebody you do not like, you decide their clothes, the color of their pores and skin …. that is racism.”

The six chiefs within the Wolastoqey First Nation in New Brunswick additionally issued a press release on Levi’s dying.

“As now we have stated all week, we’re not experiencing remoted incidents, that is simply additional proof that systemic discrimination is pervasive on this province,” they wrote. “We want motion now, we can’t afford one other tragic lack of life.”

In the meantime, marches have been organized for cities throughout the Maritimes in reminiscence of Moore.

Indigenous teams have deliberate therapeutic walks to happen concurrently in Edmundston, Fredericton and Moncton, N.B., in addition to Halifax and Membertou, N.S.

About 500 marchers arrived at a Halifax police station to complete their occasion.

The teams organizing the walks say they need to be described as Ikatomone, that means “let’s guard.”

“Folks will probably be saying issues at these rallies and it is vital that individuals such as you and I concentrate,” stated Augustine.

“They’re doing it the precise method. It’s important to calm your thoughts and calm your coronary heart. That’s the solely method you possibly can transfer on. I really admire the resilience of our individuals.”

– With recordsdata from Ross Marowits in Toronto, Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal and Michael MacDonald in Halifax.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed June 13, 2020.