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

The jury in a coroner’s inquest into the fatal 2020 police shooting of Attachie Ashoona, 38, in Kinngait ruled Thursday his death was a suicide. (File photo by David Venn)

By Madalyn Howitt

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:

  1. That all Nunavut RCMP officers receive regular mandatory trauma response training in addition to basic first aid;
  2. That the RCMP equip all detachments and police vehicles in Nunavut with proper first aid kits;
  3. That all officers be equipped with functioning body cameras that record interactions with Nunavummiut, which can be used as learning opportunities for critical incidents;
  4. That the RCMP equip and train officers on the use of handheld ballistic shields, or bulletproof shields;
  5. That male RCMP officers deal with male suspects and female officers deal with female suspects;
  6. 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.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Dumbfounded on

    This ruling is a JOKE. There were other ways to arrest this mentally ill man. Why? Trigger Happy? They saw an opportunity to place fear to the Inuit and they took the bull by the horns and did so. The officer should be charged with murder. Her supervisor s should be charged ad an accessory to murder. The police agency and the federal government should be sued financially for being the guilty party for the cover up of this murder.Since the Europeans arrived to this new territory, they have been fi ding ways to destroy our cultures. Another cover ip.

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    • Posted by Betty Sue on

      So police should have let the man kill his girlfriend, family, and anyone who stood in his way? Cool. Let’s try that next time… then who gets blamed?

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      • Posted by Inuk on

        I got my own story about them and the social workers and they are trying to not know what there doing but if there in a situation they always try make excuses and try to make finally what their have to do. In june 2 2023 from 11am to 5 pm, there is video evidence in rcmp about the social worker. He was suppose to do my disability leave forms. And remember when there was a news about toxic in worker place in gn workers, that person is part of person makes inuit looks at them their dumb and they say they are certified for that and he can’t even what even suppost to fill out and use me on my what even they can see on the computer. Even legal aid, head office in rankin when i try to ask for help to that social worker they didn’t what to help.

    • Posted by Forever Amazed on

      Based on what I read in the article, it was the right decision.

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    • Posted by Just a question on

      So all these RCMP that shoot and injure/kill Inuit, where do they end up? Most probably they are just transferred to another Nunavut community.

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