Inquest jury rules death of Kinngait man shot by police was suicide
Jury offers 6 recommendations at coroner’s inquest into 2020 death of Attachie Ashoona
This story was updated on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, at 10:35 a.m. ET.
A coroner’s inquest jury has ruled the shooting death of Attachie Ashoona by police in Kinngait in 2020 was a suicide.
Ashoona, 38, died Feb. 26, 2020, inside his father’s home after being shot in the chest by RCMP Cpl. Jaimie Methven. The inquest examining circumstances around his death opened Monday.
The inquest heard Methven and Const. Simon Coutu-De Goede had entered the house that evening after receiving two calls that a domestic assault had occurred and that another assault may have been ongoing.
Methven testified she fired two shots at Ashoona, who was visibly intoxicated and holding a kitchen knife. Ashoona was walking toward her saying, “Just shoot me, I’m going to kill you.”
The officer said she had “no other options” than to shoot him after he got to within about an arm’s length from her.
One shot hit Ashoona, who died soon afterward, while a second shot hit the wall behind him.
The inquest at Kinngait’s community hall wrapped up late Thursday with the six-member jury issuing its verdict just after 9 p.m.
The jury ultimately agreed with RCMP counsel Donna Keats, who submitted Ashoona’s death was a suicide.
She cited Ashoona’s repeated statements telling Methven to “shoot” him and fears expressed by Ashoona’s girlfriend and family that he may have wanted to harm himself.
Coroner’s counsel Sheldon Toner had suggested Ashoona’s death was a homicide, in that it was caused by another person.
A coroner’s inquest is mandatory under Nunavut law when a person has died while detained or in police custody. It does not have the power to recommend charges or to decide who is at fault.
The purpose of an inquest is to instead consider ways that deaths under similar circumstances can be avoided in the future.
The jury offered six recommendations to Nunavut RCMP in its verdict:
- That all Nunavut RCMP officers receive regular mandatory trauma response training in addition to basic first aid;
- That the RCMP equip all detachments and police vehicles in Nunavut with proper first aid kits;
- That all officers be equipped with functioning body cameras that record interactions with Nunavummiut, which can be used as learning opportunities for critical incidents;
- That the RCMP equip and train officers on the use of handheld ballistic shields, or bulletproof shields;
- That male RCMP officers deal with male suspects and female officers deal with female suspects;
- That the RCMP have mandatory orientation programs in place that cover Nunavut culture, language and community.
Nunavut chief coroner Khen Sagadraca presided over the inquest.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Cpl. Jaimie Methven’s name.