Inquest called into 2016 police shooting of man in Gjoa Haven

Police said Charles Qirngnirq was suicidal and armed with rifle when he was killed outside airport

Nunavut’s chief coroner has scheduled an inquest into the 2016 police-shooting death of Charles Qirngnirq. The inquest will be held from Oct. 4 to 8 at the hamlet’s community hall. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut’s chief coroner has announced an inquest into the 2016 death of Charles Qirngnirq in Gjoa Haven. It will be held Oct. 4 to 8 at the hamlet’s community hall.

The inquest will explore what happened on Dec. 19, 2016, when RCMP officers fatally shot Qirngnirq. Police said he was suicidal and armed with a rifle when he was killed outside the Gjoa Haven airport.

At 1:30 p.m. that day, police received a report about a man with a rifle at the airport, then later got a call that a man was walking around the community with a rifle.

When two police officers tried to de-escalate the situation by asking him to put the weapon down, he “failed to comply with the directions,” according to an RCMP statement issued at the time. He was shot by an officer due to what police called “the risk to the officers and [the] public’s safety.”

Police recovered the rifle and transported Qirngnirq to the hamlet’s health centre, where he later died.

Qirngnirq’s death occurred just before a particularly violent year for the community of approximately 1,400 people. Over the course of 2017, RCMP charged people with various violent crimes including multiple stabbings and a manslaughter.

The purpose of a coroner’s inquest is to make recommendations aimed at preventing a death in similar circumstances, according to a notice issued by the Office of the Chief Coroner on Tuesday.

Deputy chief coroner Elizabeth Copland is scheduled to preside over the inquest. It will be led by the coroner’s counsel, Sheldon Toner.

People who want to participate in the inquest or make a presentation may call the Nunavut coroner’s office at 867-975-6318.

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