The family of a First Nations man is left reeling after a police encounter ended in his death last month.
Sean Thompson, 30, died after Winnipeg Police arrested him following an alleged break and enter in the city’s North End.
“[Investigators] told me that my brother collapsed while he was in police custody. They didn’t really have any answers,” Erica Thompson, Sean’s sister, told APTN News.
According to information released by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), the body tasked with investigating serious incidents involving police, officers were called to a break and enter on Alfred Ave. around 2:30 a.m. on June 26.
The release goes on to say the suspect was apprehended one block over on Burrows Avenue, “as officers took the male into custody, he appeared to be in medical distress.”
He was transported to a Winnipeg hospital where he later died.
Little else is known about the circumstances around the arrest but Erica said her brother would never commit a crime.
“I don’t see my brother trying to break into a house,” she said.
“To me, if anything, maybe he was drinking and maybe he was lost.”
The last time Erica saw her brother was at her home the prior evening.
Their mother spoke with Sean on the phone around 10 p.m. He told her he was meeting up one of his brothers and a friend for a few drinks.
Another brother later told Erica he spoke with Sean on the phone around 1 a.m. Sean told him he was going home to get a phone charger because he battery was almost dead.
No one saw or heard from him after that.
The family was finally able to identify the body two days after Sean passed when they noticed numerous injuries.
APTN has obtained photos of Sean’s body but is not releasing them out of respect for the family.
In the photos there is significant bruising around his knees and wrists as well as large gashes in the same area.
There are also red marks around his neck and some swelling along his jawline.
Erica said the sudden death doesn’t make sense because he did not suffer from any medical conditions.
“His body is saying something else,” she said.
The family is originally from Little Saskatchewan – one of the communities devastated by the 2011 flood.
After an eight-year battle residents from four First Nations are finally receiving money from a $90-million settlement.
The Thompson family is one of them.
According to the family, Sean had more than $10,000 on him at the time of the incident, but Erica said the IIU told her less than $1,000 was recovered by police.
Sean was a loving father of two young kids as well as a stepdaughter.
When he wasn’t spending time with his children he was working out or driving around the city.
“My nephew and niece deserve to know what happened to their dad,” Erica said.
Sean was the second youngest in a family of five siblings.
Even though Erica, 38, is older Sean was her protector.
He did the same for their mother Norma Thompson.
Norma is learning how to live without her caregiver.
“Sometime I think I’m strong enough and then I’m not,” she said. “At the funeral I didn’t cry and I told [my kids] I’m going to be strong for you…I was all cried out by then.”
The family is left with more questions than answers.
Both Winnipeg Police and the IIU are refusing to comment saying it’s still an ongoing investigation.
Erica and Norma just want justice.
“For our people to go through this. Enough is enough already. Somebody should put a stop to it,” said Norma.
The IIU is looking for witnesses or other individuals who have information or video footage of this incident. They can be contacted at 1-844-667-6060.