Whitstone family and supporters hope for more justice

By Angela Brown/battlefordsNOW
December 8, 2018 - 10:12am

Brydon Whitstone's family and supporters say they want more justice following the Coroner's Inquest into his death that concluded Friday at Queen’s Bench Court in Battleford.

Whitstone's mother said the RCMP officer shouldn't have discharged his gun when dealing with her son. Brydon Whitstone, 22, from Onion Lake First Nation, was fatally shot in an altercation with the RCMP in North Battleford on October 21, 2017.

Dorothy Laboucane said her son didn't need to die that night.

"There never will be closure because it's never going to bring him back," she said. "They should have stopped the car on their own, long before it ended up where it did. They said they knew a known felon. He never had a gun."
  
The jury in the Coroner's Inquest made up of six people, three of whom self-identified as Indigenous, decided unanimously the means of Whitstone's death to be undetermined. The presiding coroner had also told jurors their other options may have included homicide or suicide.
 
After their decision the jury also recommended the RCMP use a different method of immobilizing a person, such as a Taser, rather than use a firearm, to prevent similar outcomes in the future.

Laboucane wiped away tears as she talked about her son following the Inquest.

"He was just trying to go to a stupid wedding," she said. "Now he's gone. He'll never get to see another wedding... We all are somebody's daughter, somebody's son. We all belong somewhere."
 
 Brydon Whitstone family's supporters said they want to see more improvements to how Indigenous people are treated in the justice system.
 
Whitstone's family lawyer Stephanie Lavallee added there needs to be more transparency. While an independent external investigation was completed by the Regina Police Force into the incident, Lavallee questioned an investigation of what she sees as police investigating police.

"Too many Indigenous people are dying with no accountability for the killers," she said. "This Inquest highlights that something needs to be done. These investigations need to be done by truly independent investigators."

The RCMP officer who had fired two shots at Whitstone believed he had a gun on him, however no gun was found in the vehicle. There were no criminal charges laid in the case.
 
Colten Boushie's brother William Boushie also spoke after the Inquest, showing his support for Whitstone's family. He said police officers should be required to wear a recording device from the start of an incident to the end, to provide more accountability.

Dutch Lerat with The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), said they will  be holding a press conference in Saskatoon the week of Dec. 10 to discuss the issue, and how to prevent "untimely, unfortunate incidents like this from happening to our youth."

"We're standing firmly behind the family in their call for more transparency, for more accountability when it comes to law enforcement agencies, and those that are there to protect us as citizens, and not only us but also our children,"Lerat said. "Certainly, we are going to review what has happened here this week."

The RCMP released a statement Friday saying they expressed their condolences to Brydon Whitstone's family. They said the RCMP will examine the recommendation coming out of the Coroner's Inquest and provide a response to the chief coroner.

 

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