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Death of Tadoule Lake man in police presence not caused by officers, IIU finds

RCMP officers were pointing guns at an assault suspect who was holding a firearm when he fatally shot himself in January 2022.
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Actions or inaction by police officers present when a Tadoule Lake man fatally shot himself in January 2022 were not factors in his death, a police watchdog investigation concluded.

A police watchdog investigation into the self-inflicted shooting death of a Tadoule Lake man in January 2022 has found that RCMP officers did not contribute to the outcome through actions or inaction.

A 21-year-old man fatally shot himself in the presence of police officers on Jan. 28, 2022 after having been involved in an assault the previous day.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which looks into allegations of serious misconduct by on- or off-duty police officers in the province, as well as deaths of people in police custody or while officers are present, determined that “there is nothing to support any conclusion that there is any level of contribution by any police officer to the cause of [the man’s] death, either by inaction or inaction.”

Released May 15, the IIU investigation report reached its conclusion based on interviews with the four police officers who were present and three civilian witnesses.

Thompson Rural RCMP, which provides policing services for Sayisi Dene First Nation at Tadoule Lake, responded to a report of the man who later shot himself assaulting another man and threatening to shoot him on Jan. 27, 2022. Attempts to locate the suspect proved unsuccessful until Jan. 28, when they learned that he was standing outside a residence with a firearm.

One of the civilian witnesses said they heard the shooting but did not witness it. Another of the civilian witnesses, who is a band constable in Tadoule Lake, said he saw the man holding a gun to his stomach outside a home and advised police he had seen earlier of the suspect’s location. A third witness said the man who died showed up at her relative’s home while she was there and that she accompanied police to show them where they could find the suspect. She said she heard a gunshot as police approached the man.

The police officers who were present when the man shot himself said that they armed themselves with rifles and approached him and that the man shot himself as they were instructing him to put his weapon down.

At the time of the incident, Sayisi Dene First Nation Chief Evan Yassie and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak said that they believed drugs had been the catalyst of the man’s behaviour and death. A toxicology report showed that the man’s blood contained cocaine, gabapentin and other substances, the IIU said.

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