Ottawa police will investigate RCMP fatal shooting of Nunavut man

“A tragic situation”


The Ottawa Police Service will lead the investigation into a March 20 incident, in which an Igloolik man died after being shot by an RCMP member, from the RCMP's

The Ottawa Police Service will lead the investigation into a March 20 incident, in which an Igloolik man died after being shot by an RCMP member, from the RCMP’s “V” Division in Nunavut, headquartered in this Iqaluit building. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

The Ottawa Police Service and RCMP members from the Northwest Territories’ “G” Division will investigate the fatal March 20 shooting of a man by an RCMP member in Igloolik.

The team of Ottawa investigators, assisted by RCMP members from the NWT, will conduct “an independent external investigation” into the incident, Supt. Hilton Smee, the officer in charge of criminal investigations at Nunavut’s “V”-Division, said in a late-afternoon news conference in Iqaluit.

“The RCMP would prefer to never investigate itself, and has always supported having outside agencies to investigate the actions of its employees,” Smee said.

The RCMP requests an independent external investigation whenever there is “a serious of an injury or death of an individual involving an RCMP employee,” he said.

“In this matter, the Ottawa Police Service will oversee this investigation,” he said.

The RCMP’s major crimes unit from Iqaluit has already arrived in Igloolik, but the outside investigators are still on route to Igloolik, about 525 kilometres northwest of Iqaluit.

The March 20 shooting was “a tragic situation,” Smee said.

“I want to take this time to express my condolences to the family and the friends, and the community of Igloolik. Incidents such as this affect us all deeply,” he said. “Our role and commitment is to protect our communities.”

The RCMP member, one of three posted to the community’s detachment of two constables and a sergeant, is “fine,” having suffered only minor injuries, Smee said.

Neither the RCMP member or the man who died has been identified.

This is what’s known so far: according to a late March 20 release, Igloolik RCMP members checked on the well-being of a man at a residence in the community of about 1,600 just before 8 p.m.

Police said the man advanced towards police “wielding a weapon and uttering threats.”

The police statement did not specify the type of weapon the man was wielding.

An RCMP member shot the man.

RCMP members administered First Aid at the scene, and then brought the man to the local health centre, where he died a short time afterwards.

“Police work is high risk,” Smee said March 21. “When we’re presented situations like the one which occurred in Igloolik, our first objective is protect all those who are at risk.”

Smee said “the most important action that we’re taking right now” involves supporting the members posted to Igloolik and looking after the welfare of all RCMP members in Nunavut.

The shooting incident comes only two days after a Kimmirut man opened fire on two local RCMP members’ homes early March 18.

No one was harmed in the early morning shooting, but 22-year-old David Lyta of Kimmirut faces two counts of recklessly discharging a firearm.

Lyta appeared briefly before a justice of the peace in the Nunavut Court of Justice on March 21. Lyta is scheduled to return to court March 23.

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