Saskatchewan’s Public Complaints Fee says a Saskatoon police officer used extreme power through the arrest of Jordan Lafond, an Indigenous man who was gravely injured on the finish of a automotive chase in 2016 and died the next day.
However the Saskatoon Police Service will not say what inside steps it has taken to forestall one thing like that from taking place once more, citing an ongoing authorized battle over the incident.
Lafond’s mom, Charmaine Dreaver, filed a criticism towards the Saskatoon Police Service with the Public Complaints Fee after his loss of life. The provincial physique investigates complaints about alleged police misconduct.
This week, the fee confirmed its investigation discovered “one of many officers concerned used extreme use of power.”
“I’ve identified this all alongside,” Dreaver mentioned of the fee’s findings Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter what, in my coronary heart, I’ve all the time felt that.”
Particulars of Lafond’s arrest and loss of life grew to become public throughout a coroner’s inquest in June 2018.
Lafond, a 22-year-old man from Mistawasis Nehiyawak Cree First Nation, was the entrance passenger of a stolen truck pushed by Reece Fiddler on Oct. 23, 2016.
Police pursued the dashing truck, which was later discovered to have a number of looking weapons inside, together with a sawed-off rifle between the entrance seats. The chase ended when the truck crashed right into a fence. Lafond was not carrying a seatbelt and wound up underneath the truck.
Throughout the inquest, Sgt. Thomas Gresty testified that he believed Lafond, who was mendacity face down, was resisting arrest whereas being handcuffed by one other officer. Gresty mentioned he kneed Lafond as many as 4 instances within the head. Quickly after, officers realized Lafond was in medical misery and an ambulance was referred to as.
Lafond died in hospital the day after his arrest.
Saskatchewan’s chief forensic pathologist testified that Lafond died of blunt power trauma to the top, and that the affect of the crash possible a big consider his loss of life. However the precise supply of the top trauma couldn’t be confirmed, mentioned Dr. Shaun Ladham.
“There’s no distinction that we are able to say,” he testified. “There are accidents that we are able to see in a motorcar accident, however we are able to see the identical issues from somebody in a fistfight.”
Drive was ‘not required’: police
Dreaver mentioned she’s nonetheless left with questions after the Public Complaints Fee’s discovering — together with whether or not Saskatoon police took any disciplinary motion towards the officer.
In keeping with Brent Cotter, the fee’s chair, Saskatoon police Chief Troy Cooper accepted the fee’s discovering and “is answerable for any self-discipline which will movement from such issues.”
“We have been suggested that the chief took such steps as he deemed crucial to handle the matter,” Cotter mentioned. The fee doesn’t launch its report on the finish of an investigation.
Requested in regards to the criticism, a spokesperson for the Saskatoon Police Service mentioned “the PCC discovered that the power used was not required to take Lafond into custody.”
“The SPS has taken steps internally to scale back the probability of this occurring once more sooner or later,” the spokesperson mentioned, including that the police service couldn’t say extra due to a lawsuit filed by Dreaver towards Gresty and several other different officers concerned in Lafond’s arrest.
Chris Murphy, the lawyer who represented Dreaver through the inquest, mentioned that is not adequate.
“The general public can’t be happy that the SPS takes findings of extreme power towards its officers significantly, as a result of the SPS is just not clear with the general public,” Murphy mentioned.
In keeping with Dreaver’s assertion of declare — which was filed within the title of Lafond’s then-infant daughter — the conduct of the officers was “egregious and extreme” and “an assault and battery of a nature that was not acceptable in a simply and civilized society.”
The assertion of declare additionally alleged using power was not justified underneath Part 25 of the Felony Code, which offers with police and use of power.
Had Lafond survived, he would have “nearly actually been rendered quadriplegic and/or suffered everlasting and important lack of mind perform and capability,” the assertion of declare mentioned.
Dreaver is searching for common and punitive damages towards the officers.
Officers believed Lafond could also be violent
In keeping with a press release of defence filed on behalf of the officers by lawyer Andrea Rohrke, Gresty believed Lafond was resisting arrest and “used solely as a lot power as fairly crucial, being verbal instructions and blows to Lafond, so as to acquire compliance.”
Officers had cheap grounds to consider Lafond and Fiddler is likely to be violent, given a witness instructed police he noticed individuals within the truck sawing off the barrel and inventory of a rifle, the assertion of defence says.
For the reason that chase ended solely as a result of the truck crashed, officers “had the cheap perception that the occupants of [the truck] had no intention to adjust to any future police instructions,” based on the assertion of defence.
The primary officer to achieve Lafond, Sgt. Kelly Olfason, stepped on his hand to forestall him from doubtlessly grabbing a weapon, the assertion says.
Olafson testified through the 2018 coroner’s inquest that Lafond did not transfer after he was handcuffed. The officer didn’t keep in mind Gresty’s knee strikes, he instructed the inquest jury.
Rohrke couldn’t be reached for remark Wednesday.
The Saskatoon Police Affiliation, the officers’ union, declined to remark.
‘Nonetheless police investigating police’
The Saskatoon Police Service investigated its personal officers’ conduct throughout Lafond’s arrest, with an investigation observer tapped by the Ministry of Justice overlooking the investigation.
In keeping with a press release issued by police Chief Cooper after the inquest, “a Crown overview of these findings didn’t end in prices.”
Dreaver is amongst those that consider adjustments introduced final week to police oversight in Saskatchewan do not go far sufficient, as a result of they are going to enable a police power from one a part of the province to analyze the conduct of officers working elsewhere.
“Ultimately, it is nonetheless police investigating police,” Dreaver mentioned. “I would love to see a utterly civilian-led oversight.”
Dreaver mentioned the police killing of George Floyd in the USA just lately stirred her to motion. She organized a rally in Saskatoon this previous weekend.
“Our most important objective was to be supportive with everyone else that is rallying and protesting proper now, as a result of we want adjustments in Canada,” she mentioned.