The family of a Pond Inlet, Nunavut man who was shot and killed by RCMP on March 18, 2017 are suing the officers involved, and the RCMP.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Nunavut Court of Justice, if the RCMP had done more to make sure police services were available in Inuktitut, the death could have been prevented.
The claim says David (Kunuk) Qajaakuttuk Qamaniq died of a single gun shot wound fired by Const. Patrick Higgins.
The claim also names Const. Kyle Longmire, and Cpl. Terry Hamlin as defendants. According to the claim, both Longmire and Hamlin “participated in the encounter with Kunuk which lead to his death.” Hamlin was in charge of operations for the Pond Inlet detachment on that day the claim says.
The RCMP has not filed a statement of defence at this time.
Read the statement of claim: David (Kunuk) Qajaakuttuk Qamaniq
All three defendants have since been transferred out of Pond Inlet, a small community of 1,617 people at the northern end of Baffin island, 1,067 kilometres northwest of Iqaluit.
According to the claim, on March 18, 2017, the one year anniversary of Kunuk’s younger sister Enooya’s death by suicide, David Kunuk was supposed to go hunting with a friend but slept in. He was disappointed to “miss the chance to hunt for his family.”
The claim says together with his mother “he cried for his lost sister and expressed “despair” and suggested to his mother that he was considering suicide.
He then told his family that he was going rabbit hunting and left with a .22 rifle.
Kunuk’s mother contacted RCMP on their non-emergency line, concerned with her son’s welfare.
RCMP discovered Kunuk at the beach with the rifle.
When Kunuk’s family saw RCMP approaching, his father told Cpl. Hamlin that his son was “sober and straight.”
He then shouted to his son in Inuktitut to come home.
Kunuk replied in Inuktitut that he was going rabbit hunting. According to the claim, the father believed his son was now focused on bringing home some food and drove back to Pond Inlet.
By the time Kunuk’s father got home, his wife had received a call from the local Health Centre, Kunuk had been shot by Constable Higgins.
“The Qamaniqs were eventually permitted to see their son very briefly,” says the statement of claim. “There was blood everywhere in the treatment room. Kunuk was struggling to breathe.
“The Qamaniqs were only able to exchange eye contact with Kunuk and were escorted out of the examination room.”
The father went back home to be with his other children.
“After a long time, two nurses emerged from the examination room and advised Leah Qamaniq that her son Kunuk had died.”
The civil case claims that at the time of the shooting, Kunuk had done nothing illegal, was of sound mind, and wasn’t a risk to himself and others, and claim the RCMP were negligent in killing Kunuk.
“Any confrontation which arose, and the subsequent homicide was provoked by and as a result of the negligence or deliberate acts of the officer or officers involved, individually and collectively.”
It also claims the Nunavut RCMP haven’t spent enough time training their officers in mental health, suicide, non-lethal confrontation, and de-escalation, that they have failed in recruiting Inuktitut speaking officers.
While the claim does not cite a specific amount of money they are requesting, it does list factors (loss of future earnings and pan suffering of the family) that would be the basis of any award.
The family also asks that any court case take in place in Pond Inlet with a judge and jury trial.
The Ottawa police investigated the shooting and cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.