Grand Council Treaty 3 Grand Chief Diane Kelly has raised concerns about the Special Investigation Unit’s findings in the June 7 shooting of Helen Proulx in Kenora.
“I have two questions that I want answers to,” Kelly said in an Aug. 3 press release. “First, why did the female officer tend to a domestic violence call with no backup? Second, would it not be better policy and safer for the public for officers to have Taser guns accessible rather than only handguns.”
Kelly also raised questions identified in the SIU report which asked why the off-duty Ontario Provincial Police officers at the scene failed to take notes immediately following the incident and why the OPP failed to notify the SIU immediately following the shooting as they are expected to do.
“The public has the right to know what kind of service it is purchasing from the OPP and if the OPP’s policies and practices will continue to be detrimental not only to the public’s safety but also to its own officers,” Kelly said.
Kelly said she is committed to finding answers to her questions on behalf of Proulx, her family and Treaty 3 community members.
If she doesn’t get answers from the new OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis or Ontario’s Attorney General Chris Bentley, Kelly said she will personally file a complaint with the Independent Police Review Director to find the answers she is seeking and use the system to make changes to the OPP’s policies and practices.
Kelly said she had not received any responses by Aug. 17.
An SIU representative said the SIU conducts criminal investigations, including whether an officer was justified in using force given the circumstances at the time, and does not comment on policing policy issues.
“With regards to the notes, the director was able to garner enough information in this incident to make an informed decision because of the statements provided by four civilian witnesses who each gave largely consistent statements,” said Monica Hudon of SIU communications. “The notes are a component of the investigation and it is crucial that they be given independently and contemporaneously to the event.”
Hudon said there is a higher likelihood of accuracy if people note their memories of incidents by themselves right away after an event.
“As with any investigation, the earlier we start our investigation, the better,” Hudon said. “The problem with not being notified promptly is that by the time we arrive at the scene the scene is no longer as fresh as it was and witnesses could have left.”
The Attorney General and the OPP Commissioner did not provide comments as of press time.
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