Friday, July 25, 2008

Think before you speak!

Dear President Chartrand:

Sir, you have publicly alleged racial profiling may have been involved in this tragic incident. What is your factual basis? Paragraph 7 of the accompanying Winnipeg Free Press article strongly suggests the police did not have time to engage in such an activity. Rather, they instinctively reacted to a citizen's report of a crime in progress not knowing the suspect's identity nor ethnicity until sometime after the fact.

Second. What is your evidence for believing police used excessive force:

(1) Witnessed the incident firsthand did we?

(2) Read the Winnipeg Police Service's incident report before it's been released did we?

(3) Or what about the not yet written external police agency's review of the WPS's investigation - read that too did we?

(4) Talked with the Crown Prosecutor after they examined all the evidence did we?

(5) Attended the yet to be held Public Inquiry did we?

Until then don't rush to judgment - do everyone a favour cease and desist from making such irresponsible public statements.

Sincerely,

Clare L. Pieuk

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Top Cop Denies Tasering Victim Racially Profiled - James Turner, Winnipeg Free Press

Updated: July 25 at 09:57 AM CDT

Winnipeg's police chief has denied allegations that racial profiling played any part in the tasering of Michael Langan in an nner-city back lane Tuesday.

But despite the top cop's claims, the president of the Manitoba Metis Federation said there's many questions surrounding Langan's death that police must account for, including a series of delays in notifying his family of what had happened.

Langan, a 17-year-old Metis boy, allegedly brandished a knife in the back lane behind 871 William Avenue and was then tasered by a police officer when he refused to drop the weapon.
He was rushed to hospital in critical condition where he died. It's believed he also suffered a head injury in the incident, but police will not confirm this. His family described him as being about five-foot-six and 145 pounds. He and his mother, Sharon Shymko, had returned from living in Kelowna, B.C., to Winnipeg a month prior to his death.

Amnesty International believes Langan is the youngest Canadian to die after being hit by a stun gun. He's the first to have died after being tasered by a police officer in Manitoba.

Keith McCaskill said events leading up to the incident show the officers weren't targetting the teen because of his ethnicity.

Langan is alleged to have smashed in a car window to steal something prior to the taser incident.

The theft was witnessed by the vehicle's owners, who followed him and alerted police to what had happened, McCaskill said. Moments later, the back lane encounter took place. It's not known how many times the teen was shocked by the officer's taser.

"We had two citizens approach the police, direct them to a certain person... so I think that can alleviate that concern," he said.

The province's chief medical examiner, Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra, is reported to have completed the autopsy, but it may be months before additional tests can be completed to provide a definite cause of death. He did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Langan family spokesperson David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, has questioned whether the boy was the victim of racial profiling. He had also said he believed police had used excessive force in how they dealt with the situation.

Chartrand said it was an example of "Quick Draw McGraw" behaviour by the officers involved.
He also took issue with detectives who allegedly turned up at Shymko's home nine hours after Langan had died to retrieve a picture of him without disclosing why they wanted it. They didn't notify the woman of his death until nine hours after that.

"Why did they wait so long to tell the family?" Chartrand wondered, alleging Langan had identification on him when he died.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca
With file from Canadian Press

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