Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in March 2023
Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in March 2023
At least eight people had their lives taken in Canadian police actions in March 2023. Three people were shot and killed by police (Prince George, BC, Quebec City, Louiseville, Quebec). Two people died in police custody. Two people died in falls with police present while in crisis. One person died in a police action while in crisis. Five of the victims were in mental health crisis at the time of police deployment. Two people died following intoxication arrests. This is a reminder that policing is not about health and wellness and police are not an appropriate response to health needs.
At least six people had their lives taken in police actions in February 2023 and four people in January 2023. In 2022 there were at least 117 police-involved deaths in Canada.
The details below are based on police reports, reports from oversight agencies, and in some cases information from families. As always, because there are no formal, systemic mechanisms for documenting and reporting police killings publicly in Canada, all numbers presented for police-involved deaths represent an undercount.
In addition to the known cases, there are cases of police-involved deaths in March that have no reporting. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) BC lists two deaths involving the Vancouver Police Department (March 13 and 19) that were closed without any public report.
March 7. RCMP. Bloodvein, Manitoba. Custody.
The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) is investigating a man’s death following transport by RCMP in Bloodvein, Manitoba, on March 7. According to the IIU, RCMP officers were called to a residence around 2:20 PM for an intoxicated person causing a disturbance. Upon arrival at the scene, officers found a man lying on the floor in the residence. He was observed to be breathing and responsive. The officers transported the man to the Bloodvein nursing station, because there was no ambulance service available. At the nursing station the man was assessed and found unresponsive. He was subsequently pronounced dead.
Police are not about care and should not be responding to people in crisis. Police funding increases while ambulance services are notoriously underfunded. Numerous people have died in Canada following intoxication arrests.
March 16. RCMP. Prince George. Shooting.
RCMP shot and killed a man who was reported to be in mental health crisis on Highway 97 near Prince George, British Columbia, on March 16. In a statement, police say that they responded to a report of a man who was described as experiencing a mental health crisis. They located a man in a vehicle on Highway 97. RCMP claim that officers contained the scene and stopped highway traffic.
Their statement reports that, “An interaction occurred between the man and police outside of the vehicle which resulted in the officer firing his weapon.” He was shot and pronounced dead a short time later.
The Independent Investigations Office is examining the killing. None of the police claims have been confirmed publicly.
March 20. Quebec City Police. Shooting.
Quebec City Police Department (SPVQ) officers shot and killed a man on March 20. The SPVQ claim that a 911 call was made at around 5:30 PM, regarding an armed assault on Sainte-Foy Road near the intersection of Chèvremont Avenue. Officers arrived on scene and identified a man who allegedly refused to cooperate. They claim he walked toward the officers and was shot at least once before being subdued by police. The man was transported by ambulance but later pronounced dead.
A woman, who police say is a victim, was also transported to hospital. Her status has not been updated at this time.
The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) has assigned seven investigators to examine the killing. The BEI is not an independent agency, and they rely on other police departments to carry out their investigations. In this case, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) will be supporting the BEI investigation as well as conducting a parallel investigation on the alleged assault that prompted the 911 call.
March 20. SQ and Service de police de la Ville de Saint-Eustache.
The BEI is investigating a man’s death during an intervention involving the Service de police de la Ville de Saint-Eustache and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). They report that on March 19 at around 10:15 PM, a 911 call was received from an individual worried about a loved one who had made suicidal remarks. Police attended and tried to communicate with the individual, allegedly without success. Police set up a security perimeter at the residence. A request for assistance was made to the Sûreté du Québec to “locate and secure the individual.” On March 20, at around 6:10 police found the man was dead in his apartment.
March 22. Kingston Police. Fall.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death of a man with police present in Kingston, Ontario, on the morning of March 22. They report that a short time before 7 AM, Kingston Police received a 911 call reporting a man observed on the ledge of the fourth floor of the Chown Memorial Parking Garage on Brock Street.
Police claim that upon arriving at the scene, an officer exited his cruiser and attempted to speak with the man. At some point during this the man fell to the ground. He was transported to hospital where he died of his injuries.
The SIU has assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to examine the death.
March 23. RCMP. Custody.
The IIU is investigating a woman’s death in custody following an intoxication arrest by RCMP in Chemawawin, Manitoba on March 22. They report that the woman was taken into custody around 7:40 PM. She was transported to the Chemawawin RCMP detachment and detained in cells there. On March 23, around 10 AM, she was found unresponsive in a cell. Nurses from the community’s nursing station attended and pronounced the woman dead.
The IIU has made a request for a civilian monitor for the investigation to the Manitoba Police Commission.
March 27. Isaac Brouillard Lessard. SQ. Shooting.
Police shot and killed a man identified publicly as 35-year-old Isaac Brouillard Lessard in Louiseville, Quebec, near Trois-Rivières, on the evening of March 27. A Sûreté du Québec (SQ) police officer, Sgt. Maureen Breau, also died in the incident.
Provincial police report that they went to a residence at around 8:30 PM to execute an arrest for threats when the officer was allegedly stabbed. Two more police officers arrived on the scene and shot and killed a man. Radio-Canada identified him as Isaac Brouillard Lessard.
Yvon Deshaies, the mayor of Louiseville, has claimed that Mr. Lessard had previously been hospitalized for mental health issues, but did not provide any source for that information.
Jacques Painchaud, the president of the SQ association, has confirmed that the police action originated in a mental health call.
Louiseville, Quebec, a town of around 7,500 people, is about 100 kilometers northeast of Montreal.
March 30. Toronto Police Service. Fall.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating the death of a 56-year-old man in a fall during a Toronto police action on the afternoon of March 30. The SIU reports that Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers responded to a call for a person in crisis at a high-rise apartment on Martha Eaton Way at about 4:30 PM. The man was located on a balcony. One officer reportedly communicated with the man who then fell from the balcony to the ground below. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
There have been numerous cases of people in distress dying in falls during police deployments. Police are not about health care and should not be deployed against people in crisis.