Partner feared Kinngait man might harm himself on day he was shot by police

Coroner’s inquest into death of Attachie Ashoona continues Wednesday

An inquest into the fatal shooting of Attachie Ashoona by an RCMP officer in Kinngait in 2020 continued Wednesday with testimony from Ashoona’s girlfriend, who earlier that day had been assaulted by him. (File photo by David Venn)

By Madalyn Howitt

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.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Flabbergasted on

    If the police officer feared for her life from a man who was intoxicated and had emotional mental illness, could they not have used a laser or pepper spray? If they were in fear of their life then they should have found a nice cushy job working on a keyboard. It is officers like this (there are many) that abuse their Authority and blame the public. They should be charged with murder.

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    • Posted by Questioning on

      1. Taser’s aren’t magic and don’t always work instantly. Pepper spray less often. 2. You often have people with knives claiming they’re going to kill you so that you’re in a position to judge what someone should have done?

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    • Posted by Inuk on

      From now on most of you got cell phones now so if you record your phone calls to where ever and that would be your evidence. See what there going to do with the job position power. I’ve been try to ask for help from legal aid in rankin and iqaluit and rcmp about social workers in kivallik. I hope makivik going to help. They always try to use their hard times and they said they certified for that position. He was suppose yo fill out the disability leave forms but he didn’t.

  2. Posted by Help needed, wanted on

    I am a survivor of physical and mental abuse and that lasted 16 years in total. I still questioned myself why I was not loved enough to be abused by my current hospital, as being used in the past affected my mental state of mind.

    I lived in a small community where you didn’t see a permanent mental health nurse as they were on contracts, and the trouble of constantly repeating what you told the other does give you more trust issues.

    Most GN job listings for smaller communities do not have subsidized housing available, so you are left with no permanent mental health worker, especially mental health for youth, as GN does not feel it’s important enough to fill these positions. And yet GN questions why there are so many suicides in the smaller communities. Go Figure

    You have these politicians who have promised their constituents more jobs and housing for the community they represent, and yet when they become Ministers, the words they gave you become ashes. Where is the five-year plan they give? Before becoming an MLA, you were a nobody, just as you see us now, and once that title is taken away from you due to not getting elected or being removed, you will become a nobody again.

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    • Posted by 867 on

      An often ignored aspect of housing for professionals is that unqualified local hires often get housing before people in critical roles such as nurses teachers and social workers. Instead of calling these staff housing units they should call them critical care units so to ensure that nobody gets denied care due to a lack of housing for critical workers

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  3. Posted by 😂 on

    This is Nunavut that’s all I have to say nothing more 😂

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  4. Posted by Help needed, wanted -edited on

    I do apologize as auto correct change some of my words . So here is the correct one.

    I am a survivor of physical and mental abuse that lasted 16 years in total. I still questioned myself why I’m not loved enough to be abused by my current husband, as being abuse in the past affected my mental state of mind to a point that I think if being abuse that means he loves you .

    I lived in a small community where you didn’t see a permanent mental health nurse as they were on contracts, and the trouble of constantly repeating what you told the other does give you more trust issues.

    Most GN job listings for smaller communities do not have subsidized housing available, so you are left with no permanent mental health worker, especially mental health for youth, as GN does not feel it’s important enough to fill these positions. And yet GN questions why there are so many suicides in the smaller communities. Go Figure
    You have these politicians who have promised their constituents more jobs and housing for the community they represent, and yet when they become Ministers, the words they gave you become ashes. Where is the five-year plan they gave? Before becoming an MLA, you were a nobody, just as you see us now, and once that title is taken away from you due to not getting re-elected or being removed, you will become a nobody again.

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  5. Posted by John WP Murphy on

    You did what you had to do to protect yourself and your partner Cpl.
    Veru happy to hear you are safe and thank you for putting your life on the line for all of us. Many others could have died, during this tragic event, had you and your partner not arrived to stop this sick man.
    And to his sister, you did the right thing calling the police. Don’t blame yourself as you also probably saved many lives.

    “Cpl. Jaime 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.”

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