Partner feared Kinngait man might harm himself on day he was shot by police
Coroner’s inquest into death of Attachie Ashoona continues Wednesday
This story was updated on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, at 10:31 a.m. ET.
Attachie Ashoona’s then-girlfriend says she feared he might try to hurt himself on the day he was shot and killed by police four years ago.
Ashoona, 38, died Feb. 26, 2020, when he was shot inside a Kinngait home by an RCMP officer after reports that a domestic assault was occurring there.
An inquest looking into circumstances surrounding his death heard testimony Wednesday from his then-partner Naviaqsi Qavavau, who had been attacked by Ashoona on the day he was shot.
Qavavau said that on that morning, she and Ashoona were at his mother’s house. The pair had been a couple on and off for about four years, she said, and sometimes had physical altercations where police had to get involved.
At some point before lunchtime, they went to the house of Ashoona’s father where the pair drank some alcohol. Ashoona’s father Goo Kingwatsiak was there, as was Ashoona’s sister.
During the day, Ashoona drank vodka from three mickeys, or 375-ml bottles, Qavavau said.
At some point, the two got into a fight and Ashoona began dragging Qavavau by her hair. She yelled for help and cried, she said, adding she tried to leave through the front door but Ashoona pulled her back inside the home.
When Kingwatsiak pinned Ashoona against a wall, Qavavau was able to flee.
She left so quickly she didn’t put on her boots and was outside in her socks, she told the inquest.
Qavavau went to Ashoona’s mother’s house. When she learned there were police vehicles outside Kingwatsiak’s house, she returned.
She said she was worried Ashoona would hurt himself or that he would die by suicide.
Earlier this week, the inquest heard that at least two phone calls were made to police reporting the assault on Qavavau, one of which was made by Ashoona’s sister.
On Tuesday, Cpl. Jaimie Methven, one of two RCMP officers who had gone to the home in response to the calls, told the inquest she fired two gunshots at Ashoona inside the house after he moved toward her holding a knife while saying, “Just shoot me, I’m going to kill you.”
After the shooting, and while police were still at the house, Qavavau, who was yelling, was placed in handcuffs and brought to the police station where she was placed in a sobering cell.
A distraught Kingwatsiak was also arrested when he tried to enter the room where his son Ashoona had just been shot.
It wasn’t until after Qavavau was released from custody that she learned Ashoona had been shot and killed, she said.
Const. Magalie Gourgues, one of several officers who arrived at the house after Ashoona was shot, testified by videoconference Wednesday.
She told the inquest she was unsure when she arrived whether CPR had been performed on Ashoona, who was pronounced dead at 5:27 p.m.
She said she did not ask the officers there whether CPR had been attempted.
The Ottawa Police Service later conducted an investigation of the incident and cleared Methven of any wrongdoing.
Ottawa police Sgt. Derek Wereley said the investigation took several months to complete, due in part to travel complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the failing health of Kingwatsiak, who died before the inquest could begin.
A coroner’s inquest is mandatory when a person has died while detained or in custody. It does not have the power to recommend charges or to decide who is at fault.
The inquest into Ashoona’s death is being held at the community hall in Kinngait. It opened Monday and is set to conclude Friday with the six-member jury’s recommendations.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Cpl. Jaimie Methven and Naviaqsi Qavavau’s names.