Nuu-chah-nulth leader ‘angry, frustrated’ that officer who killed Opitsaht man won’t be charged

Nuu-chah-nulth leader 'angry, frustrated' that officer who killed Opitsaht man won't be charged

The president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council which represents 10,000 people on Vancouver Island says she was angered but not surprised that officers involved in the shooting death of a First Nations man near Tofino won’t be charged.

“You know I was angry, I was frustrated. We just never seem to be able to get justice for our people in police shootings,” said Judith Sayers.

Julian Jones, 28, of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was shot four times by one RCMP officer after two officers travelled by police boat from Tofino to the nearby Opitsaht Reserve Feb. 27, 2021.

They were responding to a report of a woman being held against her will.

“They need training to shoot to disarm,” Sayers added. “Why do you have to shoot him four times? And in Chantel’s case, it was five times. Why do you need to shoot someone so many times?”

Chantel Moore, also from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation had moved to New Brunswick and was shot dead by Edmunston Police in June 2020 during a wellness check.

After an investigation by Quebec’s independent police watchdog Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes no charges were recommended against that officer.

“You know I just feel like the system is stacked against us and I don’t know when we’ll ever get a ruling that the police were wrong,” Sayers said.

Sayers is making several recommendations.

  1. Train their officers to disarm as opposed to freely shooting any way officers feel is needed.
  2. More effective training on de-escalation of situations so no shooting is necessary
  3. Independent Investigative Office be changed to be more reflective and inclusive of First Nations in their process.
  4. Setting up an alternate system to 911 for wellness checks where trauma informed people respond as opposed to police.
  5. Body Cams in every police station for their officers;
  6. Greater communication and protocols with First Nations

In the Jones shooting investigation an Indigenous Civilian Monitor was involved and signed off on the IIO findings.

“So he was satisfied so that helps a little bit but that still doesn’t take away the sting of what really happened and what we still have to change in the future,” said Sayers.

Full details of the shooting and reasons why charges aren’t being recommneded by the IIO still haven’t been released due to a pending court case.

READ MORE: Family of Indigenous man fatally shot by Tofino RCMP shocked to hear no charges recommended

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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