Independent review of Ojibway man's death shows 'deficiencies' in Thunder Bay police investigation - APTN NewsAPTN News

Independent review of Ojibway man’s death shows ‘deficiencies’ in Thunder Bay police investigation

APTN News
An independent review verifies police misconduct during the investigation of a Rainy River First Nation man’s death in Thunder Bay, according to a law firm representing the man’s family.

The body of Stacy DeBungee, an Ojibway man, was pulled from Thunder Bay’s McIntyre River in October 2015. Within hours of his body’s discovery, and before an autopsy, Thunder Bay police issued press releases ruling out foul play and declaring the death “non-criminal.”

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) has conducted an investigation into police conduct. A copy of the 126-page report, provided by Falconers LLP, states the investigation was “inadequate” and concludes there’s enough evidence to substantiate neglect of duty and misconduct by the lead investigator in the case.

“As (retired deputy police chief Andy Hay) acknowledged, one would have reasonably expected that investigators would be particularly vigilant in ensuring that the investigation of the sudden death of an Indigenous man found in the river was thorough and responsive to the community’s concerns,” reads the report. “Unfortunately, the opposite was true here.”

A press release from Falconers LLP says the report chronicles how police “failed to take the most basic investigative steps” including protecting the scene, interviewing witnesses and seizing evidence.

“Leadership right up to the chief of police are identified and a trail of ‘organizational deficiencies’ are laid out in the report,” states the release.

Thunder Bay police said it would not comment on the report because they are legally barred from doing so under the Police Services Act.

First Nations leaders, including Rainy River First Nation Chief Robin McGinnis and former chief Jim Leonard, are now calling for Thunder Bay police chief J. P. Levesque to step down.

“This OIPRD Report not only confirms what we worried is going on, but it is now clear things are much worse,” McGinnis states in a press release. “The degree of incompetence and indifference to the lives of First Nations is mind-boggling.”

“It’s obvious in this case that somebody made the assumption that it’s just another drunk Indian rolling in the river,” said Leonard. “And that’s the way the whole investigation was conducted from day one until today. Business as usual.”

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4 Responses to “Independent review of Ojibway man’s death shows ‘deficiencies’ in Thunder Bay police investigation”

  1. kdandmj2010@live.ca'
    Karen Nystrom March 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    I’m born and raised in Thunder Bay – but am completely disgusted by the lack of action both from our civic leaders and police services board members. While my community remains silent, there is no pressure other than that from “high-priced lawyers from Toronto” and media OUTSIDE of Thunder Bay as well as provincial authorities conducting expensive hearings and oversight into an issue that really should be dealt with from city hall and police services. I cant wait for the next municipal election! THANK YOU APTN, Tanya Talaga, Julian Falconer et al, Chief Jim Leonard and all the Chiefs, elders and many more for fighting the good fight!

  2. k**********@live.ca'
    Karen Nystrom February 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    I’m born and raised in Thunder Bay – but am completely disgusted by the lack of action both from our civic leaders and police services board members. While my community remains silent, there is no pressure other than that from “high-priced lawyers from Toronto” and media OUTSIDE of Thunder Bay as well as provincial authorities conducting expensive hearings and oversight into an issue that really should be dealt with from city hall and police services. I cant wait for the next municipal election! THANK YOU APTN, Tanya Talaga, Julian Falconer et al, Chief Jim Leonard and all the Chiefs, elders and many more for fighting the good fight!

  3. valhenry@tbaytel.net'
    chezhank March 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm #

    What was troubling to read on Sept 22,2016 was:

    “At his brother’s funeral, (Bradley) DeBungee expressed his concerns to Chief James Leonard of Rainy River First Nations and began to look for lawyers for help. *None of the lawyers he contacted* in Thunder Bay would agree to take the case until he found Falconer, who has recently set up a Thunder Bay branch of his Toronto practice.”

    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/09/22/thunday-bay-police-face-allegations-of-systemic-racism.html

    Then to have the mayor of Thunder Bay say:

    “We’re still being hammered by the media and high-priced lawyers from Toronto telling us we’re not doing enough,” Hobbs said.
    “I’m sick and tired of high-priced lawyers coming in and trying to drive a wedge between us and Indigenous people. It has got to stop. We’re supposed to be working together. Instead of finger-pointing, I challenge those lawyers to come to the table and start working with us.”

    https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/lawyers-media-driving-wedge-between-city-and-indigenous-people-mayor-424596

    Thank goodness for someone from the outside looking into the goings on in Thunder Bay .

  4. v*******@tbaytel.net'
    chezhank February 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    What was troubling to read on Sept 22,2016 was:

    “At his brother’s funeral, (Bradley) DeBungee expressed his concerns to Chief James Leonard of Rainy River First Nations and began to look for lawyers for help. *None of the lawyers he contacted* in Thunder Bay would agree to take the case until he found Falconer, who has recently set up a Thunder Bay branch of his Toronto practice.”

    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/09/22/thunday-bay-police-face-allegations-of-systemic-racism.html

    Then to have the mayor of Thunder Bay say:

    “We’re still being hammered by the media and high-priced lawyers from Toronto telling us we’re not doing enough,” Hobbs said.
    “I’m sick and tired of high-priced lawyers coming in and trying to drive a wedge between us and Indigenous people. It has got to stop. We’re supposed to be working together. Instead of finger-pointing, I challenge those lawyers to come to the table and start working with us.”

    https://www.tbnewswatch.com/local-news/lawyers-media-driving-wedge-between-city-and-indigenous-people-mayor-424596

    Thank goodness for someone from the outside looking into the goings on in Thunder Bay .