Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes is taking charge of the investigation into the police killing of a man near Miramichi, New Brunswick, Friday night.
The victim has not been identified by authorities, but multiple posts by friends and community members on social media identify him as a Mi’kmaq man named Rodney Levi.
This is the second time in eight days that an Indigenous person has been killed by police in New Brunswick, following the shooting of Chantel Moore in Edmundston on June 4.
Because New Brunswick does not have its own police oversight agency, the Quebec office will head up the investigation. Eight investigators have been assigned and are expected to arrive on Saturday morning. The BEI has also been assigned to investigate the shooting of Moore.
The initial version of events provided to the BEI by police and released in a French statement translated by Ricochet says that around 8 p.m. Atlantic time RCMP officers responded to a call of a disturbed man, possibly with a knife, in the Miramichi area.
The statement claims officers tracked him to a building, where they found him armed with a knife. He was tased several times, “without success.” The man “continued his charge” towards police officers, and one of the officers shot the man. He was transported to hospital, where he was declared dead.
The BEI will be investigating whether this version of events is accurate. Police accounts of their actions have often been shown to be incorrect.
Calls to the RCMP’s New Brunswick media relations line seeking more details were not immediately returned.
“I'm so mad and sad, I don't know what to think,” wrote Chief Bill Ward of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation, where Levi was from, in a Facebook post.
“If we get no answers from RCMP [by noon tomorrow],” wrote a community member going by Malcolm X. Ward on Facebook, “the Red Bank Sunny Corner bridge gets shut down!”
The police account of Levi’s death is eerily similar to the Moore case. Police in that case claim the 26 year-old single mother rushed an officer with a knife, leading him to shoot her during a wellness check.
The shooting death comes in the wake of a wave of protests against police racism and brutality, triggered by the deaths of multiple Black people at the hands of police in both the U.S. and Canada in recent weeks. The hashtag #defundtheRCMP was a trending topic on Twitter earlier Friday, and by late night anger at the police force could be seen boiling over on social media following yet another questionable shooting of an Indigenous person.
On Wednesday, four Quebec Indigenous groups sent an open letter to Indigenous Services minister Marc Miller calling for action to end “extraordinary police violence against Indigenous people.” The letter referenced the shooting of Moore and an incident in Montreal where 17 police officers and a K-9 unit responded to an Indigenous woman in psychological distress who needed an ambulance.
As of Friday, the only response the groups had received from the minister was a form email acknowledging receipt of their letter.