Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in August 2023

Sep 2, 2023

Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in August 2023

Vancouver police car at night.

At least 8 people were killed in police actions in August 2023. This means that at least 62 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 10 people were killed in police actions in July 2023, following a June that saw at least nine people killed. 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.

In August, at least two people were shot and killed by police, both in British Columbia—one in Vancouver (Vancouver Police Department) and one in Revelstoke (RCMP). Another person died after being struck with less lethal rounds, in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Three people died in police custody (Brandon, Winnipeg, and Ottawa). Two people died during police actions. At least half of the victims were described as being in some sort of crisis or behaving “unusually” or “erratically” at the time police were deployed against them. Police are not about care and should not be sent to confront people in need of care or 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 August that have no reporting. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC reported one death on August 7, involving the RCMP in Chilliwack, for which the investigation was closed without a public report.


August 2-3. RCMP. Burnaby.

The IIO in BC is investigating the death of a man in Burnaby on August 3, 2023, during police interactions. They report, based on RCMP information, that officers initially responded to a residence in the Forest Grove area of Burnaby on August 2, 2023, after receiving a call concerned about the wellness of a man. No assistance was given the man at the time.

The following day, at around 7:40 AM, officers responded again after a woman reportedly raised safety concerns about a man living at the residence. Police later entered the home where they found one man in medical distress. He was later pronounced deceased. This interaction raises questions about the deployment of police, rather than health care resources, when multiple calls concerned about a person’s welfare are made.


August 3-8. Ottawa Police. Custody.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death a 25-year-old man in Ottawa on August 8, following his arrest and medical distress on August 3. They report that at about 4 PM on August 3, Ottawa Police Service officers went to an apartment building on Goulburn Crescent for a domestic incident and arrested a man. Conducting a search, police allegedly found drugs on his body.

The man was taken to the police station where another search was carried out and he was detained in a cell. At approximately 6 PM the man was seen to be in medical distress. Emergency Medical Services responded, and he was taken to hospital. He died there on August 8.

The SIU has assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to examine the case.


August 5. Vancouver Police Department. Shooting.

Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers shot and killed an 18-year-old, identified as male, in East Vancouver in the early-morning of August 5. The IIO reports that at approximately 2:15 AM VPD received a report regarding the alleged sound of gunfire in Clinton Park, near Grant and Penticton Streets. Officers located a youth in the park, and he was shot by police. He was transported to hospital, where he died.

Witnesses have since reported hearing around 20 shots. At least 24 police bullet casing markers have been shown in media reports. Witnesses say they only heard a sound like a firecracker before hearing a staccato of gunshots. Witnesses have also reported that they did not hear police give direction to the person before opening fire but only heard officers telling each other to be careful of a crossfire. No non-police firearm has been confirmed publicly as being present.


August 6. Medicine Hat Police. Shooting. Less Lethal Weapon.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is examining a man’s death following arrest in Medicine Hat, Alberta, on August 6. They report that at approximately 2:02 PM, Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) received a 911 call about a man allegedly screaming and swinging a machete. Police officers responded to an apartment at 144 2 Ave. SE, where they interacted with a 44-year-old man and told him that he was under arrest for possession of weapons for a dangerous purpose.

The man allegedly barricaded himself inside a residence and the MHPS tactical team arrived. The man allegedly exited the residence holding a machete and knife and advanced towards police officers. The tactical team deployed less lethal rounds at the man and restrained him.

At 8:03 PM, the man was transported to hospital. At 8:56 PM, the man stopped breathing and died.

It has not been reported which specific less lethal rounds were deployed against the victim.


August 7. Winnipeg Police. Custody.

The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) is investigating a man’s death following his arrest by the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) on August 7. They report that WPS officers were dispatched to the intersection of Kinbrace Bay and McLeod Avenue around 1 PM in response to multiple 911 calls about a male with a weapon behaving erratically. The man allegedly went into a house in the 500 block of Oakland Avenue where he was taken into police custody. After his arrest, police requested medical assistance from Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS). While waiting for WFPS to arrive, the man became unresponsive. He was transported to Health Sciences Centre in critical condition and was later pronounced dead there.

Because this involves a fatality, the IIU has made a request for a civilian monitor to the Manitoba Police Commission.


August 15. RCMP. Mackenzie, BC.

The IIO is investigating a man’s death during a police action in Mackenzie, BC. They report, based on information provided by RCMP, that on the evening of August 15, 2023, officers, including the Emergency Response Team, deployed to a rural area regarding a previous call involving a man allegedly in possession of a weapon and uttering threats.

Officers contained the area for what is described as “a lengthy period of time.” At one point, a loud bang was reportedly heard, and a man was later pronounced dead at the scene. At this point it is alleged that the man’s injury was self-inflicted. RCMP claim that no officers discharged their firearms during the incident.

Police are not the proper response for someone who may have been in distress or in need of other resources. There are numerous cases in Canada each year of people harming themselves during police actions.


August 20. Brandon Police. Custody.

A man died in Brandon Police Service (BPS) custody on August 20. The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba reports that police claim that while in custody the man showed “unusual behavior” and they requested Brandon Fire and Emergency Services. The IIU says the man’s condition deteriorated rapidly and he was transported to Brandon Regional Health Centre. He was declared dead there a short time later.

Police told the IIU that the man had been arrested for flight from police, breach of a release order, and drug related offences, so this may have been another drug war death. No other details are available publicly at this time.


August 27. RCMP. Revelstoke. Shooting.

RCMP shot and killed a man in Revelstoke, British Columbia on August 27. The IIO reports that the shooting occurred on Victoria Road East in Revelstoke. Police claim that at 11 PM, Revelstoke RCMP received a report regarding a stolen vehicle and around 11:48 PM responded after the vehicle owner reported that they had located their vehicle, which had since left the area.

Police located the vehicle and a police vehicle collided with the other vehicle in an attempt by police to stop it. The man reportedly exited the vehicle and police claim that after a brief foot chase allegedly entered the police vehicle. According to the RCMP, one officer fired their weapon striking the man. Emergency Health Services attended and transported the man to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Photos from the scene show a damaged red Honda CRV with its driver’s side back door and moulding crumpled. The vehicle is behind police tape.

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