Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in July 2023
At least 10 people were killed in police actions in July 2023. This means that at least 54 people have had their lives taken through police actions so far this year. This includes people who were directly killed by police, as in police shootings, or died during police deployments or in police custody.
At least nine people were killed through police actions in June. At least 12 people had their lives taken in Canadian police actions in May 2023, the bloodiest month of police violence since October 2022. At least five people had their lives taken in police actions in April 2023, at least eight people in March, at least six people in February, and at least four people in January. In 2022, there were at least 117 police-involved deaths in Canada.
Two people were shot by police in July, one by London police, the other by Quebec City police. Four people died in police custody. Two were killed in falls during police encounters. Five victims were reported to be in distress or crisis at the time. Another person died after an intoxication arrest. Two people died in police deployments at hospitals. Policing is not care and police are not the appropriate response to people needing support.
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 July that have no reporting. For example, the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) reports a July 24 death for which there is no public reporting.
One victim has been publicly identified as John Boyce, who was arrested despite being the victim of an earlier assault.
July 5. Winnipeg Police. Custody. Taser.
A man died in Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) custody after being tased on July 5. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) reports that the incident occurred at approximately 9:30 AM, when East District general patrol members located an allegedly stolen vehicle parked near a housing complex on Robson Street. Officers attempted to arrest the lone man in the vehicle and a conducted energy weapon was deployed. Once in custody, the victim became unresponsive and was transported to the St. Boniface Hospital. He was pronounced dead there.
July 7. Surrey RCMP. Custody.
The IIO is investigating the death of a man in Surrey RCMP custody on July 7. They report, based on information provided by the RCMP, that around 7:30 PM, police received reports of a man and woman walking in traffic in the 19300-block of Fraser Highway.
Police claim that when officers arrived they took the man into custody, and he went into medical distress shortly thereafter. He was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
July 10. York Regional Police. Vaughan. Fall.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death of a 29-year-old man during a York Regional Police action in Vaughan, Ontario, on July 10. They report that around 10 AM, York Regional Police officers responded to a man in crisis at a high rise on Portage Parkway. When officers attempted to bring the man to safety, he fell from the balcony of the 52nd floor and was killed. Police are not health care and are not the appropriate response to people experiencing mental health crises.
July 11. Gatineau Police. Fall.
Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) is investigating after a man fell to his death at a Gatineau, Quebec hospital during a police action on July 11. They report that Gatineau police were called to the Hull Hospital around 1 AM regarding someone causing a disturbance. According to the BEI, police claim they found someone in a usually locked pathology lab. At around 1:30 AM, officers claim they noticed the person had a lighter and metal object in their hand. During their interaction the person allegedly broke a window and fell to his death.
July 16. Pelican Narrows RCMP. Custody.
A man, who police have described as being in “medical distress” died in RCMP custody in Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan, on July 16, after being transported to hospital. It is reported that the man went into distress at approximately 2:50 PM. His family has been notified. The Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) will investigate the Saskatchewan RCMP’s interaction with the man and the circumstances of his death.
July 19. Sûreté du Québec. Cleveland.
Quebec’s BEI is investigating the death of a man reported to be in distress during a police action on July 19. They report that Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers responded to a call around 7 PM regarding a person in possible distress inside a home in Cleveland, Quebec, about 115 kilometers east of Montreal.
The BEI claims that when police spotted the man inside the home he allegedly started shooting at the officers, who shot back. The BEI says that after police called for backup they heard a loud bang inside the home. They allegedly found the man unresponsive inside the home, and he was declared dead in hospital.
July 21. London Police. Shooting.
London, Ontario, police shot and killed a 35-year-old man on the morning of July 21. The SIU reports that the London Police Service (LPS) received numerous calls regarding a man who was armed with a gun. They also report that the man had undisclosed interactions with members of the public.
Officers were dispatched, and located the man in the garage of a residence on Glenroy Road. There was some type of interaction, and police discharged a firearm, striking the man. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
July 18-22. John Boyce. Oceanside RCMP. Custody.
John Boyce, a 53-year-old man, died after being arrested and kept overnight in cells by Oceanside RCMP on July 18. Mr. Boyce died in hospital on the morning of July 22. The IIO of BC reports that police responded to calls about a man allegedly causing a disturbance in the 100-block of Island Highway West in Parksville.
RCMP arrested a man, later identified as Mr. Boyce, and put him in cells at the Oceanside detachment. They claim that when he was released the following morning, he appeared unwell, so they contacted paramedics, who took the man to hospital.
At the hospital, he was determined to have suffered a serious injury.
On July 27, Oceanside RCMP Sergeant Shane Worth clarified that police and BC Ambulance paramedics were dispatched at 6:45 PM on July 18 to the Craig Street Market in Parksville to assist Mr. Boyce, who reportedly told a witness he had been assaulted.
Mr. Boyce left the market before first responders arrived but was found an hour later in Memorial Plaza. He was arrested for allegedly causing a disturbance and detained in cells.
Police have not said why they arrested someone who was allegedly the victim of an assault.
July 26. Fisher Branch RCMP. Intoxication Arrest.
The IIU is investigating the death of a man in detention at the RCMP detachment in Fisher Branch, Manitoba. They report that on July 26, at approximately 12:32 AM in Peguis, a man was found incapacitated on a road and was arrested by First Nation safety officers under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act. He was transported to Fisher Branch RCMP and detained in cells by the RCMP. At approximately 2:15 AM, the man indicated that he needed medical attention. He was assessed by EMS, taken to hospital in Gimli, and subsequently to Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg. He was pronounced dead there.
The IIU report that RCMP notified them of the incident on July 28, 2023.
July 27. Quebec City Police. Shooting.
Quebec City police shot and killed a man who was in distress outside a hospital on the morning of July 27. The BEI reports that police received a 911 call at around 11:25 AM regarding a man in crisis in front of Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus, in Quebec City’s La Cité-Limoilou borough. Witnesses reported hearing gunshots.
Incredibly, the Service de police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ), have tried to shame and blame the victim. They released a statement saying the man was “talking out of turn” and “behaving in a threatening manner towards other hospital users and passersby on the public highway.”
They also claimed the man made “rambling remarks” before police shot him.
Police are not about health care and should not be deployed against people in distress.
The BEI has assigned six investigators and a BEI supervisor to examine the killing. They are not an independent agency and rely on police from other forces for their investigations.
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