A Quebec police watchdog is investigating after RCMP shot and killed an Indigenous man in New Brunswick late Friday.
According to the watchdog, Bureau des Enquetes Independantes (BEI), the RCMP was responding to reports of a “disturbed person” possibly holding a knife in the area of Miramichi, a city in northern N.B., at 8 p.m. local time.
The watchdog says that after police tracked the man down, they allegedly used an “electronic pulse weapon”—a stun gun—several times, without success, until the man allegedly charged at the officers. An officer then shot the man, who later died in hospital.
Roger Augustine, the Regional Chief Assembly of First Nations for New Brunswick, identified the victim as Rodney Levi, a 48-year-old Mi’kmaq man from Red Bank First Nation.
New Brunswick RCMP told CBC local RCMP officers were responding to a report of an unwanted person at a residence before the shooting took place.
Metepenagiag First Nation Chief Bill Ward said he wants to know why a member of his community was shot and killed.
"I can't justify it," Ward said of Levi's death while addressing his community over Facebook Live. "He had his demons but he was always very friendly. He never tried to harm anybody."
Ward had spoken to Levi, who was in good spirits, earlier Friday, according to CBC. Levi had told Ward he hadn’t slept in a few days, Ward said.
“To me what it says is that if you're mentally ill and you have a bad day, the cops can kill you for it," Ward said.
Augustine is now asking for Indigenous leadership to be included in the investigation.
"The only way we can accept the sincerity of the claims of reform by the RCMP's top brass is to have inclusion of our people and our leaders at the table,” said Augustine.
The news of Levi’s death comes a week after Edmundston Police killed Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, while conducting a wellness check, also in New Brunswick.
The BEI is also investigating Moore’s death.
RCMP across Canada are currently facing backlash for violent arrests that implicated Indigenous peoples. In Nunavut, an RCMP officer was videotaped ramming his car door into an Inuk man before making an arrest, while in Alberta, RCMP dashcam footage shows an officer jump tackling and punching Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam.
In April, three Indigenous peoples were killed within 10 days in Winnipeg, Manitoba. An independent watchdog is currently investigating those deaths.
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