Catherine McCarthy-Martin holds a yellow rose in honour of her niece Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Catherine McCarthy-Martin holds a yellow rose in honour of her niece Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Family plans wrongful death lawsuit in B.C. woman’s police shooting

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member Chantel Moore killed after recently moving to New Brunswick

The lawyer for the family of Chantel Moore says he plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Edmundston, N.B., and the police officer who shot and killed her last year.

“We intend to file that complaint in the coming weeks,” T.J. Burke said in an interview Tuesday, one day after prosecutors ruled out criminal charges against the officer.

Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, was shot and killed by a member of the Edmundston Police Force during a wellness check on June 4, 2020. She was a member of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia who had recently moved to New Brunswick to be closer to her family.

New Brunswick’s Public Prosecutions Services released its report Monday outlining its reasons against charging the officer. Those documents, along with the report by Quebec’s police watchdog, Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, have provided Moore’s family with enough information to launch its lawsuit, Burke said. Quebec’s watchdog probed the shooting because New Brunswick doesn’t have an independent police oversight agency.

“Now that we have the foundation of the basis for a civil claim, the family has instructed us to move forward with it, and we intend to pursue it,” Burke said about the reports from the Quebec watchdog and the prosecutions services.

Officials for the city declined comment Tuesday.

Investigators said the shooting occurred after the young woman was intoxicated and approached the officer with a knife in her hand. Prosecutors said the officer shot at Moore to defend or protect himself and that his actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

The officer, however, told investigators he regrets not giving himself an exit from the confrontation on the balcony outside Moore’s third-floor apartment.

Patrick Wilbur, regional director of the Public Prosecutions Services, wrote in his report that an officer should always take into consideration their environment when responding to a call “to ensure that you leave yourself an exit path, and not cornering himself as he did.”

“After the fact, he regrets his decision to go left and not towards the stairs, as he would have had an exit route. He acknowledges that had he done that, the sequence of events may have had a different outcome,” Wilbur said about the officer who shot and killed Moore.

Burke said there needs to be a serious look at how police officers are equipped when they respond to calls, not just involving Indigenous people but everybody.

“They need to have body cameras,” he said. “They need to have Tasers. They need to have the appropriate non-lethal-force devices. They need to be experienced and trained in their use of force continuum.”

Burke said it was important for him to represent the family because as one of the only Indigenous lawyers in the province, he has seen systemic racism at every level of the justice system.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which represents Moore’s First Nation and 13 others on Vancouver Island, issued a statement Monday saying it was outraged the officer will not be charged. Council president Judith Sayers said the Crown is relying almost entirely on the statement of the police officer.

“There was no body cam, there was no witnesses, so this police officer will say what he has to in order to save himself,” Sayers said. “I have never understood how an armed, large police officer was scared of a five-foot, 100-pound woman with a small knife in her hand if she had one. Shooting four times is excessive force by anyone’s standards except the Crown counsel.”

Chief Alan Polchies of the St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton said he also can’t understand why the officer had to use deadly force. “I cannot express the disappointment I feel towards … the prosecution decision,” Polchies said in an interview Tuesday.

He was part of a group that rallied in front of the New Brunswick legislature Tuesday morning seeking justice for Chantel Moore. Polchies said there needs to be a proper inquiry into how police conduct wellness checks.

“If they don’t want to do an inquiry into people getting killed in this country, then let’s do an independent inquiry into the provincial justice system itself,” he said.

The New Brunswick Police Commission will now determine if the officer breached the code of conduct under the Police Act.

“The Police Act is clear that complaints that proceed to an investigation must be investigated, and decision made within six months whether there is sufficient evidence that the police officer breached the Code of Professional Conduct Regulation,” the commission said in a statement Tuesday.

The commission said it will make no further comment.

A coroner’s inquest scheduled to begin Dec. 6 will make recommendations on how similar deaths can be avoided.

—Kevin BissettThe Canadian Press

RELATED: No charges against police officer in the fatal shooting of Chantel Moore

Indigenouspolice shooting

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

File photo
Sylvan Lake NexSource Centre reopens Monday

As part of the provincial reopening plan, the recreation facility is able to open to the public

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read