London

Charges against OPP officer dropped in the death of Debra Chrisjohn

The Crown has dropped charges against a provincial police officer in the death of Debra Chrisjohn of Oneida Nation of the Thames.

A London police officer still faces 2 charges in connection with the death of Oneida of Thames woman

Debra Chrisjohn (Facebook)

The Crown has dropped charges against a provincial police officer in the death of Debra Chrisjohn of Oneida Nation of the Thames.

Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, announced in July that OPP Const. Mark McKillop and London police Const. Nicholas Doering were facing charges of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Crown Attorney Jason A. Nicol confirmed from Toronto Tuesday morning that the charges against McKillop were dropped on Monday. He said charges against Doering will proceed.

When asked why the charges against McKillop were dropped, Nicol replied: "I can't [say] because that gets into the evidence."

Nicol noted the reasons behind the dismissal will eventually be made public when the Crown presents its case in court. 

According to the SIU, London police officers were dispatched to the area of Traflagar Street and Highbury Avenue on September 7, 2016.

Chrisjohn was arrested and transferred on an outstanding warrant into the custody of Elgin OPP.

At 7:52 p.m., an ambulance took Chrisjohn to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital.  She was pronounced dead at 8:43 p.m.

Caitlyn Kasper, a lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto, is representing the Chrisjohn family. She told CBC News that she and the family were notified prior to the charges being withdrawn in court.

Kasper said there was "very little real evidence" that the Crown could give for why the charges against McKillop were dropped.

But , she said, the family is relieved that charges will proceed against Doering.

"Absolutely … If it's the case that he had more responsibility … then definitely he should be concentrated on and he should be held accountable," said Kasper.

Kasper said Const. McKillop was one of several OPP officers on the scene the day Chrisjohn died.

"I certainly hope that the Ontario Provincial Police is going to be doing a thorough internal investigation as to the actions of all of the police officers who were present to see if there were breaches under the Police Services Act.

"And if that's the case, then they need to be disciplined under it appropriately."

Capser said the date for a judicial pre-trial will be determined next Monday and they hope to have a better idea how the case against Doering will proceed after that.

About the Author

Gary Ennett

Morning News Editor

Gary Ennett is a veteran editor and reporter. He’s been with CBC since the opening of the London bureau in 1998. His email address is gary.ennett@cbc.ca