Review clears police in Winnipeg teen's death, family upset

Family members of Matthew Dumas said they're disappointed with a Calgary police review released Wednesday into the teenager's death in Winnipeg.

Family membersof Matthew Dumas saidthey're disappointed with an external review released Wednesday into the aboriginal teenager's death.

Officials told the family that a review by the Calgary Police Service cleared Winnipeg police of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Dumas, 18,in January 2005.

Winnipeg police Chief Jack Ewatski said in a statementthat the review backs his force's earlier investigation into the incident.

Dumas was shot and killed in Winnipeg's North End last year after allegedly pulling a weapon on officers who had been chasing him as a suspect in a robbery. Police said he was shot after he refused to drop the weapon, later determined to be a screwdriver.

Although the officer involved was Métis, the shooting quickly prompted cries of racism, with some native leaders expressing concern that police targeted the teen because he was aboriginal.

In May 2005, Ewatski asked the Calgary force to review the investigation of the incident that wascarried out bypolice in Winnipeg. Native groups had expressed concern that the Winnipegforce would not be able to fairly investigate the actions of one ofits officers.

Family not happy

Jessica Paul, Dumas's sister, told CBC News on Wednesday that she was not surprised by the findings, but she was disappointed that the report did not make any recommendations for Winnipeg police.

"They had nothing to say at all that was negative on their part," she said. "Everything that they told us was, you know, basically just backing up that they feel that they've done a good job in the review and that kind of stuff."

'Everything that they told us was …basically just backing up that they feel that they've done a good job in the review and that kind of stuff.'-Jessica Paul, sister of Matthew Dumas

Paul said she would be considering her options. The family is speaking with the Southern Chiefs Organization about the possibility of a lawsuit.

Nahanni Fontaine, SCO's director of justice, said a police-run review, regardless of where it came from, is not independent in her eyes.

"Across the country, policing institutions share a history, share a philosophy, share policies —really share everything," she said. "So we kind of argue that while the Calgary Police Service was independent… how independent is it when all policing institutions across the country share that history?"

But the lawyer for the officer who shot Dumas said regardless of what anyone thinks about the Calgary report's impartiality, it proves the police acted honourably.

"The optics may not appeal to many people, but I can tell you, again, that damn the optics," Hymie Weinstein, who represents the unnamed officer, said Wednesday.

"If you want a thorough investigation, it's been done. It has been done— in this case, in other cases— by experienced investigators who know that someone is going to be looking over their shoulder to make sure they're doing everything right."

The province's prosecution office has received the external report. A statement from the province said Wednesdayit is forwardingthe reportto the Ontario Crown attorney's office for "their independent legal advice on the analysis of the incident."

The Manitoba government said it remains committed to holding a public inquest into Dumas's death.

In February, more than 100 people gathered for a vigil at the spot where Dumas was shot.