Montreal

Police ethics commissioner orders investigation into death of Lac-Brome teen

Tracy Wing feels a measure of vindication now that she has received word that Quebec’s police ethics commission has ordered an investigation into police action surrounding her son’s death.

Riley Fairholm's mother hopes investigation will shed light on SQ officers' involvement in her son's death

Sûreté du Québec police officers shot and killed Fairholm, 17, in the early hours of July 25, 2018. He was suffering from depression at the time. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Just over a year ago, Tracy Wing lost her son Riley Fairholm. She has been questioning the role of police in his death ever since.

Today, she feels a measure of vindication now that Quebec's police ethics commission has ordered an investigation into the police action surrounding her son's death.

"For the first time in one year, it was the first time that I felt like I had been really heard," said Wing. "And I was really happy. It's a weird word to say."

Sûreté du Québec police officers shot and killed Fairholm, 17, in the early hours of July 25, 2018. There were reports that he was carrying a firearm. His family said he had been struggling with depression at the time.

The ethics commissioner ordered an investigation into police intervention in her son Riley's death, the actions of the SQ officers who were on the scene, and the alleged non-compliance of the Bureau of Independent Investigations' (BEI) procedures by SQ officers.

The BEI is called in to investigate any incident in the province involving police in which someone is hurt or killed, or where police use their weapon.

Questions still need answers

Wing hopes the ethics investigation will answer many of the questions she has about what happened to her son.

"Why they shot him so fast, why were their protocols not followed, and also why did it take them one hour to inform me that it was actually them that had shot my son and that it wasn't self-inflicted," said Wing.

Wing believes there are several steps that SQ officers did not follow given the rules set out by the BEI in such events.

"There's just too much, too many things that they didn't follow. And for the next time they need to know that they're doing this wrong and to do better," said Wing. 

The ethics commissioner dismissed Wing's complaints that the BEI investigation was not thorough enough.

The BEI investigation is now complete. It submitted its report to the Crown prosecutors' office (director of criminal and penal prosecutions), on May 1.

A spokesperson for the office said prosecutors are still reviewing the file.

Wing has yet to hear if the officers involved will face charges. She doubts any will be forthcoming. "I have a feeling it will be no accusations," she said. 

Wing is hopeful however that the police ethics commission will shed light on what happened in the early morning hours when Riley died. 

"I think I'll be satisfied with the information that I get from this. It's a step forward," said Wing. "So I'm going to be positive about that outcome anyways."

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