Investigation into Clyde River police shooting ongoing

Abraham Natanine, 31, died on May 5 following an altercation with police

Nunavut police say an armed suspect fired into the home of Clyde River’s RCMP detachment commander as part of a morning standoff Dec. 17. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The Ottawa Police Service says it’s completed the initial stages of its investigation into the police shooting death of a Clyde River man last month.

RCMP officers in the Baffin community responded to a disturbance in a home on May 5 just after 11 p.m. Nunavut RCMP later said an officer “became involved in a use of force situation and discharged their firearm.”

Abraham Natanine, 31, died from his injuries that night.

In a video posted by Natanine’s common-law spouse to social media just after the shooting, the distraught woman can be heard screaming, “What’s your name?”, while two male officers stand over a lifeless body. Eventually, the officers lean down to help move the man.

Community members say Natanine was shot three times in the chest that evening. He is the son of Clyde River Mayor Jerry Natanine.

The investigation is ongoing, Ottawa police said in a June 25 email to Nunatsiaq News, though no date has been set for its completion.

The OPS has an agreement with the Nunavut RCMP and the Government of Nunavut to conduct “impartial, independent investigations” into major incidents involving members of the RCMP in Nunavut, when it’s requested of them.

The final report will then be handed over to the RCMP, which can decide to make it public or not.

Depending on the findings of its investigation, the OPS can engage Crown counsel to launch or recommend criminal charges.

There have been six investigations into Nunavut RCMP conduct so far in 2020. Three involve police shootings, two of which were fatal. The other investigations concern an incident in which an RCMP vehicle struck and killed a child, an in-custody death, and an incident in which an officer knocked over a man with the door of his moving vehicle.

The latest incident has prompted the Government of Nunavut to say that it’s looking at a new model for civilian oversight of the RCMP in the territory, which will likely be announced this fall.

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