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Probe opened into new police-involved death in Canada

"Investigators in Canada are probing the deaths of two indigenous people at police hands - GREG BAKER / ©AFP"
"Investigators in Canada are probing the deaths of two indigenous people at police hands - GREG BAKER / ©AFP"

(AFP)

Authorities in eastern Canada’s New Brunswick province said Saturday they have opened an investigation into the police-involved death of an indigenous man.

The 48-year-old died after being shot by a federal police officer Friday near the small northern town of Miramichi, said Quebec’s Bureau of Independent Investigations (BII), which is leading the inquiry. 

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Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were responding to a report of a knife-wielding individual.

According to still-unconfirmed reports cited by the BII, the man — a member of the Mi’kMaq First Nations tribe — charged at police, and after attempts to subdue him with a Taser-type weapon failed, one officer fired his sidearm. 

The man, who has not been identified, died later at a hospital.

His death came eight days after 26-year-old indigenous woman Chantel Moore was shot dead by police officers who had been asked to check on her health. 

Edmunston police said the woman, wielding a knife, threatened an officer and he had to defend himself — an allegation rejected by Moore’s family.

The BII is investigating that case as well.

There have been growing complaints by First Nations groups of systemic violence by law enforcement against indigenous people.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday called for an independent inquiry after seeing a “shocking” video of the violent arrest of an indigenous leader by federal police in western Alberta province in March. 

Trudeau acknowledged “systemic racism… across the country, in all of our institutions, including in all of our police forces.” 

The recent death in the US state of Minnesota of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, at police hands has sparked renewed debate about racism across Canada. 

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