Violent beating leads to organized-crime charge
Details are emerging about a brutal Manitoba assault that prompted justice officials to seek criminal-organization status for a violent aboriginal street gang.
In July 2009, RCMP charged reputed Indian Posse member Jeffrey Bruyere with an assault on a woman on the Peguis First Nation reserve, 145 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Police also alleged the attack was committed to further the interests of the street gang and charged Bruyere with participation in a criminal organization. Neither charge has come to trial yet.
Police have never explained why the case warranted the rare charge, which is usually reserved for major organized crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
But their reasons are suggested in a December 2009 court transcript obtained by CBC News. The transcript was filed on behalf of a female co-accused in the assault case.
There was no publication ban on the hearing.
Drug debt led to assault: Crown
The Crown alleges that just prior to the July 19, 2009, assault, a group of people, including Bruyere, pulled up in a car outside a house party at about 4:30 a.m. CT.
According to the transcript, Bruyere and the victim talked about a drug debt he claimed she owed an associate of his.
"Bruyere … told her he was a high-ranking member of the Indian Posse street gang and he was not to be messed with," prosecutor Courtney St, Croix said. "He then told the victim that he could have her and her family killed."
The woman told Bruyere she wouldn't be intimidated and left him to sit by a nearby fire, the Crown said.
Minutes later, she was allegedly approached by a different man and got into a fight with him. A beer bottle was smashed over her head, according to the transcript.
"Jeffrey Bruyere then said, 'Give it to her guys, give it to her, do her,'" the Crown told Judge John Guy.
Bruyere is accused of joining in the fight, punching the victim and smashing a beer bottle over her head. The victim was also struck with sticks and physically assaulted after she fell to the ground, Guy was told.
Her sister managed to pull the woman off the ground, get her into a car and drive to a nearby home, where she called police, the Crown said.
"Essentially this was a violent assault for the purposes of enforcing a drug debt," the Crown said.
The transcript said the victim suffered numerous cuts and her right eye was almost swollen shut.
RCMP officers moved in to arrest Bruyere and other suspects in the assault after the woman gave a statement. He remains in custody.
In April, Bruyere was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the May 2006 gang-related prison death of Sheldon Anthony McKay, 30.
Four others have been charged with the same offences in connection to McKay's death, which happened at the Stony Mountain Correctional Institute.
Gang known for violence
The Indian Posse was formed in the basement of a home in Winnipeg's North End in the early 1990s. It has since spread west throughout Saskatchewan and into parts of Alberta.
Police have said that in recent years, the gang has become increasingly sophisticated as it tries to capitalize on the lucrative drug trade.
In Winnipeg, the gang has been linked to shootings, home invasions and beatings. It predominantly operates within the North End of Winnipeg, just across the Salter Street bridge from the West Alexander area.
One of its slogans is the phrase "red 'till dead," a suggestion that members of the gang risk their lives should they try to leave, and a reference to the colours the gang wears to signify membership.
In July, justice officials obtained direct criminal indictments against eight Indian Posse members who are suspected in the brutal beating of an inmate at the Milner Ridge Correctional Centre on Dec. 21, 2009. The indictments mean the eight men will not have the Crown's evidence against them tested at a preliminary hearing.
As well, Daniel Richard Wolfe, the brother of one of the gang's founders, was recently killed in prison after being convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in connection with a violent home invasion in Fort Q'Appelle, Sask., in 2007.
Six suspects were charged in his death, including two with ties to the Indian Posse.