God’s Lake First Nation member shot and killed by Winnipeg police April 18

AMC grand chief says gaps in Manitoba Police Services Act may be contributing factors to three fatal police shootings of Indigenous people in Winnipeg in 10-day span

A 22-year-old man originally from God’s Lake First Nation in Northern Manitoba was shot and killed by Winnipeg police April 18, the third Indigenous person to die in a police shooting in the city in the span of 10 days.

The Winnipeg Police Service said officers responded to a call around 4 a.m. from a resident of Adsum Drive who said he was taking his garbage out when two armed men confronted him and demanded money. He was assaulted by the men but fled and called 911. A second call to police said windows were being broken at an Adsum Drive apartment building. Police located two male suspects, which is when an officer fired their weapon.

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One of the men, since identified as 22-year-old Stewart Andrews, received emergency first aid from police and was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The other person, a 16-year-old male, was treated in hospital for minor injuries. He was charged April 19 with robbery, use of an imitation weapon while committing a indictable offence, possessing a weapon, possessing a firearm, pointing a firearm, possessing a weapon/firearm or ammunition contrary to a prohibition order and two counts of failing to comply with a sentence. He was detained in custody.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), which investigates all serious matters involving on- and off-duty police in Manitoba, took over the investigation and deployed investigators to the scene. Because the incident involved a fatality, a request to the Manitoba Police Commission for a civilian monitor was made.

Andrews’s sister Alexcia Andrews told CBC that her brother recently became a father and was raising that child and two others along with his girlfriend and that he was also a loving grandson who would do anything for his grandparents.

Earlier in April, Winnipeg police shot and killed 16-year-old Eisha Hudson during what they called a chase that began when a group of teenagers robbed a Liquor Mart. Less than 12 hours later, 36-year-old Jason Collns was shot by police responding to a domestic violence call.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) said in an April 21 statement that the Manitoba Police Commission should investigate the structural causes that contributed to these Indigenous people’s deaths.

“Contrary to Danny Smyth, the Winnipeg Police Service’s chief of police, this loss of the lives of First Nations people by the WPS are not an ‘anomaly,’” said AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas in a press release. “Over the years, First Nations have been dehumanized, mistreated and have been killed through WPS officer involved shootings since before the J.J. Harper incident and the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (AJI) in 1991. The scales of justice for First Nations in Winnipeg continue to be broken and need to be fixed immediately. The AMC does not have confidence in the Manitoba Independent Investigation Unit to conduct a full and complete investigation and disclosure of all the circumstances surrounding each of these shootings. In light of this, the AMC is calling on the civilian oversight committee, the Manitoba Police Commission, to work with the AMC to develop a terms of reference, as well as assisting to retain an investigator under its mandate to investigate the Winnipeg Police Board for its monitoring of the relationship between First Nations and the WPS. The AMC also recommends that this investigation look into the legislative gaps in the Manitoba Police Services Act that may be contributing factors to the deaths of these three young people and the ongoing race-based violence experienced by First Nations within the City of Winnipeg.”

The Twitter account Winnipeg Police Cause Harm said that four people have been killed by Winnipeg police this year, including an unnamed person on March 10, putting them more than halfway to last year’s total of seven. A fifth person suffered self-inflicted wounds in the presence of Winnipeg police Feb. 12, the Twitter account said. There have also been two deaths in police custody in Manitoba this year - a 31-year-old man at the Oxford House RCMP detachment in March and 44-year-old woman in the Thompson RCMP detachment in February.

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