Family of First Nations man fatally shot by Winnipeg police sues for damages

The family of a 22-year-old First Nations man who was fatally shot by police two years ago is suing the Winnipeg Police Service for damages. 

Stewart Andrews, 22, died in April 2020

Stewart Kevin Andrews, 22, was shot and killed by a Winnipeg police officer in April 2020. His family has filed a lawsuit against the Winnipeg Police Service, alleging negligence on the part of the officers involved in the incident. (CTV pool camera)

The family of a 22-year-old First Nations man who was fatally shot by police two years ago is suing the Winnipeg Police Service for damages. 

Stewart Kevin Andrews died in April 2020 after being shot multiple times by an officer who was responding to a call about an assault near the city's Maples neighbourhood 

The fatal police shooting was the third involving an Indigenous person in the city in a 10-day period, and followed the deaths of 16-year-old Eishia Hudson and 36-year-old Jason Collins.

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba investigated the incident and submitted its findings to Manitoba Prosecution Service in March 2021. However, prosecutors said there wasn't a reasonable likelihood of conviction in the case.

In addition to the Winnipeg Police Service, two unnamed officers — the officer who shot Andrews and a dog handler — are named as defendants in the suit. 

The lawsuit alleges the officers involved in the shooting failed to inform Andrews he would be shot if he didn't comply with their directions, and were thus negligent in carrying out their duties.

It says that due to Andrews' death, his family members have suffered from a loss of income, and have incurred funeral expenses. 

Eleven of Andrews' family members are named as plaintiffs in the statement of claim, including Andrews' young son and stepchildren. The lawsuit is seeking amounts between $10,000 to $30,000 for each. 

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been tested in court and neither the Winnipeg Police Service nor the two officers who are defendants in the matter have filed statements of defence. 

IIU report 

According to IIU's final report on Andrews death, the officer who fired the shots was assisting another officer, who was a police dog handler. 

Through his notes and a prepared statement, he said saw two males in a back lane when he got there. 

One of them, later determined to be Andrews, was holding what appeared to be a long metal pipe, the officer said in his notes. 

The dog handler said he yelled at Andrews to drop the pipe, but he refused and instead swung it several times.

The statement of claim filed by the family argues the dog handler should have used the dog as a show of force and valued the life of the dog over Andrews. 

However, according to the IIU's final report, the officer said he didn't let his dog go because he was afraid it would be killed, which an expert on training police dogs said was in line with handlers' training. 

The officer who shot Andrews told IIU investigators through notes and a prepared statement that the 22-year-old started swinging the pipe like a baseball bat and took a few steps toward him. That's when the officer said he fired five rounds at Andrews's chest, killing him.

That officer did not agree to an interview with investigators, which is allowed under current laws in Manitoba.

However, a use-of-force expert consulted by the IIU said the officer's actions "were aligned with his training."