Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller strongly condemned recent acts of violence by police against Indigenous people, including the fatal shooting of a New Brunswick woman during a wellness check on Thursday.
Miller said he thought the initial report of 26-year-old Chantel Moore’s death at the hands of Edmundston, N.B., police was some kind of “morbid joke.”
“I’m pissed, I’m outraged. There needs to be a full accounting of what has gone on,” Miller said at a news conference on today.
“This is a pattern that keeps repeating itself.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the videos and reports that have surfaced over the last few days are “disturbing.”
“They bring to light the systemic realities facing far too many Canadians,” he said.
A spokesperson said police went to Moore’s apartment at 2:30 a.m. after her boyfriend asked for a wellness check. Edmundston Police Insp. Steven Robinson told reporters Thursday that Moore was wielding a knife and was intent on “attacking” the responding officer.
“He had no choice but to defend himself,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the officer is “off work” and the force will wait until an outside investigation is complete before making a decision about suspension. Robinson declined to name the officer.
The Edmundston police say they have asked an “independent agency” to investigate whether the officer’s actions complied with policing standards.
WATCH | Marc Miller says he’s ‘pissed’ and ‘outraged’ at police violence
“Obviously something went wrong and someone died,” Miller said in reference to Moore’s death. “And that’s unacceptable … I want answers.”
Miller said he also “watched in disgust” a video that appears to show an RCMP officer using the door of a police pickup truck to run down an intoxicated man late Monday night in the Nunavut hamlet of Kinngait.
The RCMP officer was responding to a call that the man was “fighting with others.” The officer opened the door of the moving vehicle as he approached the man, who was knocked down. The RCMP has removed the officer from the community and has placed him on administrative leave.
“A car door is not a proper police tactic. It’s a disgraceful, dehumanizing and violent act,” the minister said.
“Police serve Canadians and the Indigenous peoples of Canada — not the opposite. It’s something that we need to reckon with as a society as we look towards the south and the disgraceful acts that are occurring down there.”
WATCH | Door of RCMP vehicle knocks down man being taken into custody:
U.S. law enforcement is now grappling with the fallout from the death of George Floyd, a black man, while in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers.
People have staged protests in Canada and the U.S. to demand greater accountability from police, with calls to “defund” law enforcement.
Trudeau said he’d be speaking to his cabinet and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki later today to “ensure each one of these individual cases is investigated properly.”
“Far too many Canadians feel fear and anxiety at the sight of law enforcement officers because we continue to have systemic discrimination … racialized Canadians are vulnerable in these situations,” he said.
Trudeau said his government can’t solve the problem “overnight” but “we need to make a change.”