Quebec prosecutors clear Nunavik police in shooting deaths

DPCP issues decisions on four separate incidents that happened in 2017 and 2018

Quebec’s Director of Penal and Criminal Prosecutions has cleared KRPF officers who were involved in three separate civilian shootings and another death that took place in Nunavik between April 2017 and April 2018. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

Quebec’s director of penal and criminal prosecutions has decided not to lay charges against police involved in four separate incidents that took place in Nunavik between April 2017 and April 2018.

During that period, Kativik Regional Police Force officers responded to and were involved in the separate deaths of two Nunavik residents and serious injuries in the cases of two others.

When civilians are seriously injured or killed during a police altercation, Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (office of independent investigations) is responsible for looking into the circumstances.

The BEI then files its report to Quebec’s director of penal and criminal prosecutions (DPCP) or Crown’s office, which decides if the police officers involved should face charges.

The officers were cleared in all four cases, in separate decisions the DPCP issued over the last few weeks.

KRPF officers were called to a home in Puvirnituq the morning of April 28, 2017, to respond to a complaint about drunkenness.

When they arrived at around 9:30 a.m., officers removed two inebriated men from the home. They drove the first man home, but en route to the second home, officers noticed the other man appeared to have fallen asleep in the back of their cruiser.

The officers took the man back to the station and lay him in a cell on his stomach, to prevent choking, to allow him to sober up. At about 5 p.m. that day, a cell guard called officers to say the man was unresponsive. The 24-year-old victim—who is not identified in the report—was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead.

The DPCP’s report indicates that film footage in the police detention area shows the man did not move the entire time he lay in his cell. The coroner’s report could not identify when exactly the man died but declared his cause of death as acute intoxication. The autopsy could not rule out the possibility that he asphyxiated at some point.

The DPCP’s report concluded that the evidence does not reveal any criminal negligence on the part of the police officers that day.

In the DPCP’s most recent decision, released May 9, the Crown cleared police of any criminal wrongdoing in the shooting death of Illutak Anautak, the Akulivik teen who stabbed and killed three of his relatives on June 10, 2017.

KRPF officers first received a call early that morning about a stabbing in a residence. When the officers arrived, they found a young boy who was seriously injured and bleeding outside the home.

Anautak, 19, then appeared, armed with knives in each hand, threatening to kill others and himself. The DPCP report said the man then threw his knives at the police officers and tried to flee the scene as he threatened to kill another family member.

Police first attempted, unsuccessfully, to hit Anautak with a baton.

As Anautak entered another home, police officers threatened to shoot him. He carried on and officers fired and shot Anautak as he entered the home’s kitchen, killing him instantly.

“Given all that had happened in the previous minutes as well as everything that was to their knowledge, it is obvious that the police had to prevent him from returning to the house, armed with a knife,” the DPCP concluded.

“So the force used at that time was not excessive and was necessary in the circumstances.”

A Crown prosecutor met with Anautak’s family to explain the decision. The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes has now closed its investigation into the Akulivik killings.

The two other cases involved police incidents in which civilians were seriously injured.

On October 19, 2017, again in Puvirnituq, KRPF officers responded to a late afternoon call about someone firing their weapon within the community.

When officers arrived on the scene, the DPCP reports said they encountered a woman pointing her rifle at them. The police took cover behind a neighbouring home and engaged in a standoff with the woman, encouraging her to put down her weapon. During this time, the woman threatened suicide.

The officers called for backup and a third officer arrived and positioned himself behind the armed woman.

When he asked her to drop her weapon, the DPCP report said she turned and pointed her gun directly at him. At this point, the officer fired and injured the woman, from a distance of about 25 metres.

The DPCP found that intervention was legal, given the imminent danger the officer faced. The force the officer applied against the woman was necessary for both his and her protection against death, the report found.

The woman survived her injuries, and has been informed of the office’s decision.

KRPF officers were found not criminally responsible for injuries they inflicted on a teenager during a police intervention in Kuujjuaq on April 25, 2018.

But because charges have been laid against the person involved in the incident and that case is now before the courts, the DPCP said it could not comment further on the circumstances of the incident.

In its reports, the DPCP explained that it analyzes each file it receives with “rigour and impartiality.”

“In criminal law, the burden of proof that must satisfy the lawsuit is very demanding,” the DPCP said. “Because of the principle of the presumption of innocence, the prosecution must indeed make a demonstration beyond a reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt before the tribunal.”

You can read the DPCP’s reports on its website, under the Communiqués de Presse section. The reports are only available in French at this time.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by pissed off on

    The police people are not always without fault but reading the resume of the events , one has to feel empathy and compassion for the desperate job they have to face sometimes on a need for a very quick response.
    The people should realize that more often than not they bring upon themselves their own troubles . There are victims for sure but when you play with fire expect the possibility of getting burned .

    People have to smarten up !!!

  2. Posted by citizen on

    I always put myself in Police officers’ situation, and I salute them with respect. Our communities should support them more and we should educate our children to not be disrespectful. The officers are considered the bad guys but are always the first to be called.

  3. Posted by Don on

    We therefore should thank the officers of KRPF. Yes, people make their own trouble. A few cans of beer does lots for the idiot making life miserable for others in the community. You see them going around like no tomorrow is coming. Big shots after consuming a few cans. I’m delighted that these trouble makers are dealt with on the spot.

  4. Posted by Obvious on

    So, let me pose this…

    What do you think is going to happen when people who have mental illness, refuse attending to or addressing it – but continue to consume controlled substances in vast quantities?? Or others, as was previously stated – get tough, difficult, racist and begin wielding weapons and threatening the safety of their family members, themselves, the police and the general public… well, these people are dealt with accordingly. The RCMP are trained to protect and serve the public by neutralizing threats. In Canada, furthermore Nunavut/Nunavik/NWT, I think that police action is lenient and borderline lackadaisical compared to the US.

  5. Posted by Tommy on

    Mental illness. The term most people lack understanding. Profiling is another term people like to use alot.

  6. Posted by Earl on

    I feel for the police that injures or fatally wounds a deranged person, trying to hurt others. I don’t feel much for the trouble maker. That’s how I feel, bit there’s many that feel the way I do. That police has to live with that trauma for life. Yes, I agree in the north, we are too easy on the trouble makers. More should be dealt with. Police needs to do more not less.

  7. Posted by Nunavimmiuq on

    Atii, let’s stop being stupid Inuk!

    Whether you like it or not, it is time to face the truth, we are humiliating ourselves looking dumb, we need to wake that, law is law, yet the Police officers needs to study harder, that, not all Inuit are criminals, but then again, they have to know what pain that we are facing, try to counsel our Inuit, understand our Inuit, because they don’t what kind of incidents we went as a growing up child, try to bring that hurt child out of our system and talk it out before we explode in many reasons.

  8. Posted by commentor on

    There was a time my sister’s son committed suicide in the cell [jail]. ALONE. whenever the police arrest anyone, don’t you think they have to keep an eye?Like they say, they put an intoxicated already pastout in the cell and later found him dead, to me it sounded they dumb him in, and did not check him for awhile? WHAT???? Shooting on the leg or arms, I guess would save the life of someone.

  9. Posted by Nunavik on

    Nunavik KRPF Police, Police brutality rate was highest in Canada, due from Racial acts according to Police statistics of Canada, many wrong doings etc.

    And, there are barely any Inuit Officers every since then, when Surete du Quebec Police was let go, there were Inuit Constables in each communities of Nunavik when SQ Police was in charge, they were more respecting human & Canadian Charters of Rights & Freedom, them days, was the law back then, they recruited & supported Inuit more than then.

  10. Posted by Really! on

    Hey Nunavik, if you want more local officers, why don’t you encourage your friends and family to apply for KRPF? It’s easy to say but not easy to do, as a former KRPF member myself I left the job because I was tired of dealing with my family and friends. This is the reality and I don’t blame our young people if they don’t want to work in Nunavik as a police officer. It’s not easy. Bring solution to the KRPF if you are so good.

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