Man, 27, dies after altercation outside Kuujjuaq bar

Witness says fight started after last call; one man currently faces assault charge

Simon Berthe, identified as the man who died following an altercation in Kuujjuaq Friday, is shown in a file photo with a snowmobile he raced at Labrador’s Cain’s Quest earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/Simon Berthe)

By Cedric Gallant - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

An alleged fight outside a Kuujjuaq bar early Friday has left one man dead and another being held in police custody.

The 27-year-old victim died shortly after an altercation outside the Kuujjuaq Lounge early Friday morning, according to Nunavik Police Service.

Shane Dallas Neepin, 36, was charged with assault and will appear in court Aug. 25 in Amos, Que., according to a court document. He is currently in custody there. Nunatsiaq News has not yet been able to identify his lawyer in order to seek comment.

Sureté du Québec’s communications officer Hugue Beaulieu said it’s possible that since the other man died, the charge against Neepin could be upgraded or more charges could be laid.

David Pearson, a manager at the Kuujjuaq Lounge, said he was having a cigarette outside the bar at about 1:30 a.m. Friday. Last call had passed, he said, and there were others outside with him.

“They were about eight feet in front of me,” he said of the alleged altercation between Neepin and the other man, who Pearson identified as his friend, Simon Berthe, 27.

“There was no yelling, no arguing, and at one point Shane comes over and socks him. He then goes around [Berthe’s] back, picks him up and falls backward.”

Shane Dallas Neepin, seen in this picture from his Facebook page, was charged with assault following an alleged altercation last week outside the Kuujjuaq Lounge. A 27-year-old man identified as Simon  Berthe died later that day. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/Kuujjuaq Birdman)

Pearson said it appeared that when Berthe fell he landed directly on his neck.

He said Neepin and Berthe were both at the bar that night, but he never saw them interacting.

“Simon was in his corner,” he said, “and Shane was all over the place. But there was no point where they ever interacted with each other.”

After Neepin brought Berthe to the ground, Pearson said, “I got over and ripped Shane off of the guy, and asked him ‘What … did you do? Why did you do this?’”

According to Pearson, Neepin responded that the victim was testing him, and that he had acted in self-defence.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Meanwhile, Pearson said, Berthe was still on the ground.

“I assumed he was unconscious,” he said.

After pulling back someone else who had tried to intervene, Pearson said “I turned my attention back to Simon.

“I go and check, and his eyes were blank and his pulse was slowly fading.”

“I was freaking … out,” Pearson said.

The ambulance had already been called, but “I had enough time to go call them again,” he said.

Pearson said police officers arrived about two minutes after they were called and that they apprehended Neepin, while the ambulance took roughly 10 minutes to get there.

Berthe was taken to the health centre in Kuujjuaq, then medevaced to a hospital in Montreal. Police say he died Friday.

“I didn’t see why there was any conflict between the two,” said Pearson. “I never really heard of them having any beef, or even hanging out.”

He said he and Berthe were friends and “every once in a while he would come by my place and hang out with me and my dog.

“Honestly, he was one of the nicest people that you would probably meet. He was very humble, I had never seen him get into any sort of physical fights, except with his brother.”

On Facebook, people are using #JusticeforSimonBerthe to support Berthe’s family and friends.


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