Manitoba

Craig McDougall inquest finds no evidence of racism leading up to police-shooting death

An inquest into the police-shooting death of Craig Vincent McDougall in Winnipeg has found that police were justified in their actions and there was no evidence of racism in the moments leading up to the man's death.

Report critical of 8-year delay between 2008 shooting and start of inquest

Craig McDougall was shot and killed on Aug. 2, 2008 outside his father's Simcoe Street home. (Bebo.com)

An inquest into the police-shooting death of Craig Vincent McDougall in Winnipeg has found there was no evidence of racism in the moments leading up to the man's death and that police were justified in their actions.

The report from the inquest into McDougall's death was released Friday.

McDougall, 26, was shot and killed by police on Aug. 2, 2008 outside his father's Simcoe Street home.

The inquest, which was mandatory because the incident was an officer-involved shooting, began in 2016, eight years after McDougall's death.

During the inquest, court heard that someone called 911 early on the morning of Aug. 2 reporting a stab wound. When officers arrived at the Simcoe Street home, they found McDougall outside holding a cellphone to his ear and a knife in his other hand. The three responding officers asked him to drop the knife and one used a Taser.  

When that didn't stop McDougall, an officer shot him. McDougall died shortly after. 

The inquest also heard from Jonathan Rudin, an expert on Indigenous people, the justice system and police, who was commissioned to testify by the McDougall family's lawyer, Corey Shefman. 

Rudin pointed to the way McDougall's family was treated after he was shot as an example of systemic racism. McDougall's father, uncle and father's girlfriend were all put in handcuffs and left on the lawn near McDougall's body.

In her inquest report, Associate Chief Judge Anne Krahn wrote there was "no evidence of racism direct or systemic in the moments leading to the shooting of Craig McDougall."

"I conclude that the use of lethal force ... was the only reasonable option left to him when the Taser was ineffective," Krahn said, referring to the officer who fired his weapon.

However, she wrote "there were missteps in the immediate aftermath of the shooting when Craig McDougall's uncle and father were left handcuffed and detained without lawful authority."

The report made 16 recommendations, including that police should ensure the rights of a witness are clearly explained, the police service should consider delivery of implicit bias training for its members at regular intervals and police should continue to work with Indigenous organizations to develop community policing programs.

Another recommendation was that police should consider the feasibility of body cameras. In 2016, the Winnipeg Police Board cancelled a body-camera pilot project in order to trim the Winnipeg Police Service budget.

When asked about the recommendation, Mayor Brian Bowman said it's up to the police board and there are lots of different technologies being employed by law enforcement. 

"When it comes to equipment, ultimately the police board looks at the pool of funding that they have," he said. 

Many of the recommendations pointed to the inquest's long delay and its impact on the family and community's relationship with police.

"More than eight years is an extraordinarily long time to wait for an Inquest into the death of a loved one and a member of one's community. It is a long time for the involved police officers to wait to testify," Krahn wrote.

The inquest was critical of the reasons for delays and recommended the province amend the Fatality Inquiries Act to set legislative timelines ensuring inquests are held in a reasonable time period. 

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