Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in April 2024

May 1, 2024

Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in April 2024

Durham Regional Police Pride Themed Vehicle.

At least 11 people were killed in Canadian police actions in April 2024, matching March as the deadliest month of policing so far this year. This brings the total number of people killed in police actions to at least 31 over the first third of the year. These deaths include people who were directly killed by police, as in police shootings, or died during police deployments, police chases, or in police custody.

At least 11 people were killed in Canadian police actions in March, five people were killed in February, and at least four people had their lives taken in police actions in January 2024. There were at least 97 police-involved deaths in Canada in 2023, while in 2022, there were at least 117 police-involved deaths.

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 that have no reporting. For example, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia lists two deaths in April for which there is no public reporting (April 26, RCMP, Richmond and April 21, Surrey Police Service and Surrey RCMP).

In April, five people were killed in police pursuits, with four people, including an infant, killed in one single pursuit. Police pursuits are quite often deadly in Canada. Another person was killed by being struck by a police car. One person was shot. One person died in a fall while in crisis. Three people died during arrests or attempted arrests. At least two of the killings occurred in First Nations.

April 4. Sûreté du Québec

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) is investigating the death of a man during an intervention involving the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) on April 4. They report that around 1:31 PM, a call was made to the Sûreté du Québec regarding a person allegedly wanted by police. Around 7:10 PM, police reportedly attempted to arrest the person who was inside a tent, using pepper spray to force him out of the tent. At some point they heard a gunshot coming from the tent and withdrew. Officers from the SQ tactical intervention group arrived on the scene around 4:08 AM on April 5 and confirmed the person’s death. The BEI has assigned four investigators to examine the circumstances surrounding the police intervention and death.

April 9. Edmonton Police Service. Foot and Helicopter Chase

A man drowned in the North Saskatchewan River during a foot and helicopter pursuit by Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers on April 9. It is reported that police tried to stop the man at around 2:17 AM for riding a bike “without proper lighting equipment” in the area of 93 Street and 82 Avenue. The man rode onto a pathway with the officers following on foot and by helicopter. The police Air-1 helicopter located the man and the pursuing officers, maintaining visual contact as he was seen running onto the icy river before slipping into the open water.

Community critics have questioned police deployment of a helicopter and pursuing a chase of someone over a bicycle light. They have also pointed to the traumatic impacts of policing, especially for people with mental health issues or histories of criminalization.

Particularly, marginalized people are disproportionately targeted and ticketed for bicycle-related infractions such as riding on the sidewalk or cycling without a bell or lights. Indigenous people especially are disproportionately impacted by policing of cycling.

April 19. Eeyou Eenou Police Force. Hit by Police Vehicle

Eeyou Eenou Police Force (EEPF, Cree Nation) struck and killed a pedestrian with a patrol car in Mistissini, in Northern Quebec, on April 19. Quebec’s BEI is investigating. They report that a police officer from the Eeyou Eenou Police Force was travelling in his patrol car, followed by two police officers from the SQ in their patrol vehicle. The three officers were reportedly responding to a call regarding a person travelling by foot on the highway. The pedestrian was then hit by the EEPF police officer’s patrol car. The victim suffered serious injuries and was transported to a clinic where he was later pronounced dead.

Five BEI investigators have been tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the death. The BEI is not an independent investigations unit and relies on other police forces for their investigations. In this case, the Service de police de la Ville du Québec (Quebec City police) will be involved in the investigation.

April 20. Manitoba RCMP. Sandy Bay First Nation. Shooting

Amaranth RCMP shot and killed a 27-year-old man in Sandy Bay First Nation on the evening of April 20. It is reported that RCMP were responding to a call by Manitoba First Nation Police Service regarding a disturbance involving a weapon at a residence in Sandy Bay First Nation around 5 PM. Police claim the man had fled by the time officers arrived, but RCMP and Manitoba First Nation Police tracked him to an open, outdoor area. A Mountie shot and killed the man.

April 22. Chilliwack RCMP. Arrest

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is investigating a man’s death while being arrested by RCMP officers in Chilliwack. According to the IIO, based on information provided by the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP, police responded to a report of a fight near March Street and Patten Avenue. They report that a man was arrested by police, then went into medical distress. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No other details are available currently.

April 22. Sûreté du Québec. Vehicle Chase

The BEI is investigating a person’s death during a police pursuit by the SQ on April 22. They report that around 4:55 PM, a SQ police officer allegedly located the vehicle of a wanted person, turned on his flashing lights, and attempted to intercept the vehicle. Around 4:56 PM, the pursued vehicle collided with another vehicle. The driver of the pursued vehicle was reportedly seriously injured and the driver of the second vehicle was reported dead at the scene.

The BEI has assigned five investigators to examine the case. The BEI is not an independent oversight agency and relies on other police forces for investigations, in this case the Quebec City police department.

April 27. Quebec City Police Department. Fall

The BEI is investigating the circumstances of a death during an intervention involving the Quebec City police department on April 27. They report that at approximately 5:57 PM, a call was made to 911 for a “disorganized person” on a roof. Police arrived on the scene around 6:07 PM and reportedly tried to communicate. Support was called for from firefighters and ambulance workers and a net operation was reportedly launched around 7:15 PM. At around 8:00 PM, the person allegedly fell from the roof. They were transported to hospital where they were pronounced dead.

There is no report that any mental health supports were called to the scene or had any interaction with the person. Policing is not care and should not be the response to mental health crises.

April 29. Ontario Provincial Police. Four Killed. Vehicle Chase

Four people, including an infant and its two grandparents (aged 60 and 55), were killed in a fiery crash during a police pursuit involving multiple police vehicles on Highway 401 in Whitby, Ontario, on April 29. The person being chased was also killed. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) reports that the crash involved at least six vehicles. All four people were pronounced dead at the and another person was taken to hospital with what are reported as significant injuries.

The Durham Regional Police Service says officers were responding to a robbery call in Clarington, a town east of Toronto, when they began pursuing a vehicle driving the wrong way in the eastbound lanes on Highway 401. The pursuit reportedly began at an LCBO location, when an off-duty officer reported an attempted theft to Durham Regional Police at around 7:50 PM.

video circulating on social media shows a van speeding through oncoming traffic with Durham police vehicles close behind. The video then cuts to a fiery crash at the side of the highway. The SIU reports that the collision occurred at around 8:10 PM. Police radio has subsequently suggested that at least 12 Durham police vehicles were involved in the deadly pursuit.

The SIU has assigned five investigators to the case, as well as one forensic specialist and one collision reconstructionist. They are still determining how many Durham police will be designated as subject and witness officers. They say they will also be determining whether it was appropriate for Durham police to pursue the cargo van as it drove the wrong way on the province’s busiest highway.

Rather than raising concerns about police actions and issues of accountability, Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke on the issue to tell reporters his government is working to give police services even more resources and equipment, including the purchase of four new police helicopters.

Jeff Shantz is a long-time anti-authoritarian organizer, researcher, and writer who lives and works on Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo territories (Surrey, British Columbia).

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