Police shootings and public safety - the violence continues

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Police shootings and public safety - the violence continues

While the coronavirus pandemic is making major headlines, another issue that is not receving attention is the issue of officer-involved shootings in Winnipeg. Previously, these shootings happened once every few years. Last year was pretty bad for that. There were 8 officer-involved shootings, seven of them fatal. Not even one third of the way into this calendar year, police have shot 4 people, all of them fatally. In reverse chronological order:

April 18, later identified by family as Stewart Kevin Andrews, 22

April 11, Jason Colllins, 36

April 11, Elisha Hudson, 16

March 10, unnamed victim, 27

This after a year which set a record for homicides in the city, along with the high number of police shootings that happened as well. I don't know what the numbers are like for this year, but it looks like the pandemic is unfortunately not having an impact on taking down serious violent crime numbers in Winnipeg. It's not just a Winnipeg issue either. Last year, Brandon recorded 3 homicides, whereas usually they record one homicide every 2-3 years.

We can't let the pandemic distract us from the fact that there is a public safety crisis happening in our province. We desparately need to invest in our communities to stop this kind of thing from happening. Incarceration is no longer a viable solution, as jails are looking to release as many people as they can to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the institutions. Things are getting very bad. As activist Michael Champagne says:

"It's been many years since I've seen tensions this high between the community and the Winnipeg police," said Michael Champagne, a youth mentor and community organizer.

Champagne said Winnipeg's Indigenous community is polarized and people are angry. He wants police to improve communication and is calling for more investments in crime prevention.

"If the police are able to articulate to the community when they show up in a situation that someone has a weapon we have to respond in this way ... then that will better help people in community deal with the police," he said.

"I know that even for myself when I see a police car going by my heart starts beating a little faster."

Champagne believes crime will continue to grow until root causes of poverty and trauma are addressed. 

"We have to talk about how we prevent these types of situations from happening before the police are even called, before the police have to give these lethal force situations."

He said in his opinion the relationship between police and the Indigenous community was best between 2013 and 2015, citing the attendance of officers at Meet Me at the Bell Tower events in the North End as an example of how former police chief Devon Clunis led community-based prevention strategies. He said since the chief retired in 2016 it's been harder to get police involved.

"Without those partners supporting community resources to prevent families from falling apart and falling into poverty people not having the education people not having the jobs is going to result in people doing the crime and doing the drugs."


We should disarm the public further.

If police don't feel threatened by citizens then they won't respond with deadly force.
If the public at large was banned from owning/carrying all weapons then the incentive for police to shoot and or feel threatened would decrease significantly.

We could even have police who don't carry guns.


travissmith wrote:
We should disarm the public further.

If police don't feel threatened by citizens then they won't respond with deadly force.
If the public at large was banned from owning/carrying all weapons then the incentive for police to shoot and or feel threatened would decrease significantly.

We could even have police who don't carry guns.

What are you getting at here? Most of the recent officer involved shootings have the police claiming they shot at people who had things like knives, machetes, and other various implements like hammers. I can't off the top of my head think of any shootings where the police claimed those involved had actual guns.


Speaking of officers who pose a threat to public safety in Winnipeg:


Manitoba's police watchdog has charged a Winnipeg police officer in connection with a crash that injured six people last summer.

The Independent Investigation Unit charged Const. John Misiewicz-Buzahora on Tuesday with three counts of driving dangerously causing bodily harm. The IIU investigates all serious incidents involving police in Manitoba

Surveillance footage taken around 7:20 p.m. on July 13, 2019, suggests a Winnipeg Police Service general patrol cruiser car T-boned a minivan after failing to stop at a stop sign where Aberdeen Avenue intersects with Salter Street.

The impact toppled the van onto its driver's side and it slid to a stop just off Salter.

Four occupants inside, as well as two police officers, were taken to hospital where they were treated and released.

The article shows a video clip of the crash. It is absolutely apalling, and it's only sheer luck that nobody died as a result of that crash. I don't care what the officer was responding to, he should have been more careful. Think about what his job entails as a police officer. If he hasn't directly seen carnage brought on by people driving carelessly, he has definitely heard horror stories from colleagues who have. He should have known better.

Regardless of the result of criminal proceedings, he at least deserves to lose his job over this.


So lately we have had problems with random stabbings on the bus and random attacks with hammers. Despite the pandemic, the scary headlines about crime that Winnipeg is used to are still coming at us. The few of us who still move around downtown can see more people sleeping in bus shelters, no doubt a result of reduced shelter capacity due to social distancing requirements. The social ills of our city are laid bare for the few people moving about downtown and paying attention. I look to what is happening in Minneapolis, and am fearful that it's only a matter of time before the same thing happens here.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Both those incidents are horrible. I have no idea how that young lad's recovery is going to go with what has been described as "life-altering" injuries. I only heard the tail end of an abuction and sexual assault on a woman taken form Winnipeg to St. Paul by a pair or group of women. There has been and continues to be lots of tension and aggression in this city. Lot of it is related to class discrimination and racism that have resulted in high incidences of addictions, homelessness and lateral violence. The pandemic situation makes it worse in how support systems have been affected for sure.

I think that Winnipeg's racism is more predominantly focused on Indigenous people. I don't know if riots will happen anytime soon but it's amazing how quick the larger entitled white majority shits on them when they just set up blockades to defend their rights.


Far from uniting the city, the social distancing measures implemented to fight the pandemic are tearing the city apart. Offices have been closed. Major summer events that happen downtown have been cancelled, along with Jets games. The University of Winnipeg has been educating people online, and will continue to do so for months. Restaurants have been closed. That means that many members of the professional class who come into the downtown are separated from that reality. They don't see the social problems as they hide out from the pandemic in the safety of their own homes. Community service organizations that help the urban poor have reduced or outright eliminated volunteer helpers, and with all due respect, that is having an impact on service delivery. Community drop-in centres are closed, and for many people it's the chance to drop in and socialize with people is the greatest need they have. Additionally, panhandlers earnings have declined, as people are simply not around to give cash. All this is no doubt having an impact on physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. This is a perfect envrionment for things like drugs to flourish, along with the social ills that follow. Additionally, given the risks to health of urban poverty, why are the urban poor even worried about coronavirus anyways? There are so many bigger risks to people's health that we have ignored.


You are so right there is little to say about it. I worry for the homeless. We should be scrambling to make sure they all have a roof over their heads for winter  across Canada. 


Police exercise in Winnipeg under fire:


Gabriela Aguero was tending to her garden May 25 in the Wolseley neighbourhood when she heard gunshots.

"I heard about 10 or 20 shots being [fired] at the same time," she said.

She looked across the river and saw police in uniform at an abandoned building on Wellington Crescent. They had guns drawn, and were shouting and running.

"The first thing I thought is, 'a bullet is going to come to the other side of the river and I'm going to die,'" she said.

It was only a police training exercise — but Aguero didn't know that.

She ran into her home, while her son took video on his phone of what he could see across the river.

Aguero said the yelling and shooting went on for 15 minutes.

Why the hell is the Winnipeg Police Service doing that kind of exercise in a city, possibly even tying up their own 911 lines from people calling it in not knowing what was happening? Don't they have enough secure buildings and outdoor facilities in remote rural areas for this exact purpose?


Brandon Police Chief joins Black Lives Matter march:


Holding signs reading "Black Lives Matter," "If you’re not livid, you’re not listening" and "End police brutality," approximately 200 people took to Brandon streets on Friday evening to show their support for Black Lives Matter marches across Canada and in the United States.

The march, which started at the Healthy Living Centre at Brandon University and was organized by students, was in response the killing of Georg Floyd by police in Minneapolis last month. His death has sparked protests and marches across North America against police brutality.

For context, to get 200 people to an event of that kind in Brandon is a major accomplishment.

Oh Heph, you have been gone a long time. You had to leave Brandon because of the kind of thinking that prevailed there. What would you say if you could see this happening in your former home town?


10,000 people showed up for London, Ontario's protest in support of Black Lives Matter. My youngest (this was her first protest) said they only had 10 cops show up to protect a handful of white suupremacists who were getting the shit kicked out of them by anti-racists protesters. 10,000 for a city the size of London is quite unprecedented.


Let's be honest about something that I think is helping to drive massive turnout at these protests. There's not much else to do, people haven't seen their friends in a long time, and aren't sure when they will see their friends again.


Drugs an issue in smaller communities as well:


A report on addiction resources says the city of Brandon needs medical detoxification beds, as well as people with lived experience to help those who want to recover navigate the system.

The five-page report was prepared by Westman Families of Addicts following consultations with families and those with first-hand experience going through recovery late last last year.

It was presented to Brandon city council on Monday night by Lonnie Patterson, the vice-president of the non-profit group, which focuses on advocacy and resources for families of people living with addiction. The group's website says its ultimate goal is bringing a detox and recovery centre to Brandon.

Patterson said the first major need that was identified in the group's report was a lack of medical detox beds in the city.

"This has been a reality in Brandon for years," she said.

The biggest challenge there is that Brandon is very good at pretending these kinds of social problems don't exist in the city, even though they have almost the entire time I have lived there. Lately they have become very strongly evident. I hope that shakes the complacency of the community and they take it more seriously.

Misfit Misfit's picture

Some European countries require many years of training to become police officers. Norway and Finland require three years of training. Iceland police require two years of  training. The United States police require between two weeks and six months of training.


These countries with the highest training standards have the lowest number of shooting and other deaths by police officers.  Canada has lower shooting depths per capita then the United States but our training standards lag far behind many other European nations as well.

The United States also lacks national standards for police training.  


Talk about adding insult to injury:


A Winnipeg woman is dumbfounded after she received an ambulance bill for her common-law partner who was shot and killed by police in April.

Neveen Al-Fouakhiri said she recently found the $250 ambulance bill in her mail.

“I kind of cried in my house for six hours after,” Al-Fouakhiri told Global News Thursday.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Wow. How horrible.


This little bit over the ouster of James Favel from the Bear Clan:


Favel envisioned a Bear Clan with a fully Indigenous executive and a majority-Indigenous board, but the current board doesn't represent the community the Bear Clan serves, he said. 

He also was concerned about the number of current and former police officers serving on the board, he said.

"Exactly what I was fighting against," he said.

In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the province, police officers on the board led a voting block that shut down the nightly patrols against Favel's wishes, he said.

"That's one of the things that set us apart was that Bear Clan was consistent," he said. "That's what I was trying to maintain. The board decided that they were just going to pull the plug."

That sounds troubling, and raises the possibility of the Bear Clan being co-opted by the Winnipeg police. When it comes to public safety, there will be alliances between community groups and the police. The problem is that the police should be accountable to the communities they serve, not the other way around. If what Favel says is true, it is very concerning, especially in light of crap like this:


A board member of Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg has stepped down from her position, days after a series of tweets she posted led to a petition demanding her removal.

The tweets from Rejeanne Caron's account, which is no longer publicly viewable, included one where she allegedly suggested people who want police budgets reduced be blocked from calling 911.

The board of the Indigenous-led, grassroots street patrol group was ready to remove Caron from her position at a meeting on Thursday, says Bear Clan co-founder and executive director James Favel. However, she resigned before that happened.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Favel's dismissal certainly doesn't pass the sniff test in my view, especially on the heels of the news of those tweets from Rejeanne Caron, many which sounded racist and led to her stepping down as chair of the Board.


It's not just Winnipeg. Dauphin and Portage la Prairie have also seen murders in their communities this year.

Back in Winnipeg, an officer who shot a robbery suspect last fall has been cleared by the police watchdog.


This announcement from Brandon I don't understand:


The Brandon Police Service will receive provincial money for a new permanent jail at its headquarters.

$4.4-million dollars will go towards building a new detention facility - and until that's completed - modular cells will be constructed.

Also this year, the province has provided almost $200-thousand dollars to BPS for training and equipment upgrades.

The government says the funding was made available through the Manitoba Restart Program.

I thought that holding cells at the police station were for temporary detention? If someone has to be detained longer, aren't they usually taken to a jail? Brandon has a jail, so why were the funds not directed there instead of towards the police station?

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Doesn't this also come at the heels of closing a prison facility in Dauphin? Sounds like some kind of pork-barreling.


I don't know what the internal politics are. I don't know if the PCs have given up on Dauphin, or are trying to throw money at Brandon to distract from the frustration about the recent covid outbreak there.

I do remember that when the closing of the Dauphin facility happened that nobody in the area, even local advocates of restorative justice, thought that was a good idea. Dauphin is a major city, and far away even from some of the catchment area of people who would end up in the Dauphin jail. That makes it very hard to receive visits from loved ones. Now take these inmates even further away, to Brandon or Winnipeg where their loved ones can't reach them, and the only social support they have is other inmates. What do you think that does to their chances of rehabilitation or how likely they are to reoffend upon release?

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

It doesn't seem like a well-thought decision sadly enough but not surprising.


This is disturbing:


Two women face what police believe are the first charges of public incitement of hatred in Brandon, Man.

Officers were called to a downtown skate park — the Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza at Ninth Street and Princess Avenue — around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, where a group of five people was allegedly yelling racial slurs at a Black man.

The man tried to leave to avoid a confrontation, but the group blocked him and then attacked him, police said.

It started as a physical fight and ended with the man being stabbed five times, Staff Sgt. Brian Partridge said.


laine lowe laine lowe's picture

That is surprising and so very upsetting.


Yeah, it's the kind of thing you only expect to happen in big cities. It's true that racism is prevalent in Brandon, but that is shocking even for that city. As the article notes, it was the first time a charge of inciting hatred has ever been laid.

Brandon Police Chief Wayne Balcen actually marched in the Black Lives Matter protest in Brandon last summer. I hope the police service actually follows through on that and does what it can to hold accountable those responsible for this crime.


Not seeing the bigger picture?


A Winnipeg city councillor tried, and failed, to get a motion passed this week to purchase body cameras for Winnipeg Police Service officers.

Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) brought the motion to city council's Assiniboia community committee on Tuesday, calling the cameras "a reliable eyewitness" to incidents involving police. He argued they are needed even more in a climate in North America filled with accusations of racism and excessive force by police.

"This is the time now to put in accountability for everyone," Klein said.

"I think the residents are asking for it; officers are asking for it. There is no time like the present to do this. We have been ignoring the problem for a long time and we continue to push it off."


Klein's motion on Tuesday was defeated 2-1, with committee members Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James) and Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) voting against it.

"I don't feel comfortable on this," Lukes said during the meeting of the community committee. "There is little proof it reduces use of force incidents."

Gillingham nixed the motion over concerns about the costs. He also suggested the community committee wasn't the place for a motion on body cameras for police, and that the city's police board was the appropriate venue.


Tragedy hits Portage la Prairie for a second time this year:


The disappearance of a 36-year-old woman reported missing in July is now being investigated as a homicide.

Tamara (Norman) Benoit, who last had contact with her family in May, was found dead last week, RCMP said Friday.

Officers with the Manitoba First Nation Police Service found human remains near Cottonwood Drive in the rural municipality of Portage la Prairie, just outside the city, on Sept. 3. RCMP joined the investigation and the remains were identified as Benoit.

She was reported missing to Winnipeg police on July 10.

Meanwile, a positive step for Indigenous men who went through the criminal justice system:

A local group called Strength in the Circle is helping men who have been through the criminal justice system heal.

“Strength in the Circle was built in response to the prevalence of untreated trauma in Indigenous communities that is the result of discriminative policies imposed by the Canadian Government,” said Jonny Meikle, the founder of Strength in the Circle.

Meikle said he wants to help men who have been through the criminal justice system find a more positive way to live – which includes taking a deep look at the pressures facing them.

The group said it recognizes there is a 'suffer in silence' or 'man up' mentality when it comes to men experiencing emotions or hard times.

I hope at some point this group can do some sort of mentoring to younger people before the next generation is caught up in that same cycle. Good for them in any case. I wish them all the best.


Guilty plea in Brandon stabbing:


A teen charged in the fatal stabbing of another teen in Brandon last summer has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

The accused, who can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, entered the plea in Brandon provincial court on Thursday morning. 

The stabbing happened at a home in the 500 block of Louise Ave., in Brandon's downtown area, just after 7 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2019. 

At the time, police said the 15-year-old victim had been stabbed and was found unresponsive. He was taken to hospital, where he later died.


Another police shooting happened today:


A man was taken to hospital in unstable condition after a police shooting in a back lane in Winnipeg's North End Wednesday afternoon.

Winnipeg Police Service Const. Rob Carver said officers responded to the area of Powers Street and Boyd Avenue at about 12:40 p.m., after reports of an armed man in a back lane nearby.

A man was found in the lane and "officers were forced to discharge their weapons" within minutes of arriving, said Carver. The man was shot and rushed to hospital in unstable condition, he said.

Shortly after 1 p.m., a person was seen being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher in the back lane.


How well is this going to go over?

City and police officials have again decided on the Old Exhibition Grounds as the best choice for the new North District Police Station.

In 2018 the police service backed away from the site over community concerns it would impact the North Nomads football club and other recreation space on the property.

After an exhaustive search for private and public options, a new report to the Mayor’s Executive Policy Committee recommends the new station be built at the Old Exhibition Grounds describing it as the feasible choice.

The report said the station would be built at 80 Sinclair Street with a “revised” design to reduce the footprint.


The report said a city-owned building at 100 Sinclair St., which currently houses the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre offices, would be demolished.

The plan has the organization’s administrative staff relocate to the Old Ex building where its programs are being run now.


Changes in direction for Porage la Prairie shelter:


The Portage Community Revitalization Corporation is eager to be leading the charge when it comes to tackling the city's homelessness problem.

Rest-a-Bit's homeless shelter will now mould into an entity of the PCRC beginning Monday and board member Miriam Turyamwijuka explains the rationale behind the changing of the guard.

"We were quite exhausted after the winter because we were all volunteers, and it's not something to take lightly," notes Turyamwijuka. "So, that was one way that they (PCRC) were able to help. And from there, it seemed that this was the best way to keep it going with COVID-19 and everything else."

The PCRC helped secure $85,000 worth of funding during the pandemic so the shelter could still operate and help those in need. Victoria Espey, the organization's executive director, says once the PCRC is in charge, they will take steps to expand the service.

We tend to think of Winnipeg being unique in Manitoba in terms of being affected by big city problems like poverty, gangs, homelessness, and crime. The truth is, these problems affect every major urban centre in the province. If the NDP put its mind to it, they would have safe seats in every major city in the province, including Portage la Prairie. The only cities this wouldn't apply to are Steinbach, Morden, and Winkler, as these cities are in the province's Bible Belt, and Bible Belt areas typically do not vote for left-wing politicians. Brandon, Dauphin, Selkirk, The Pas, Thompson, Flin Flon, and Portage should be on the NDP's radar for serious organizing and winning.