New Brunswick

Edmundston to equip officers with body cameras, more Tasers after death of Chantel Moore

The Edmundston Police Force says it will test body-worn cameras ahead of a wider rollout to its officers in the aftermath of the shooting death of Chantel Moore. Meanwhile, a lawyer for her family says they'll file a lawsuit against the officer and city.

Lawyer for Moore's family says wrongful death lawsuit will be filed against city, officer

Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by an Edmundston Police Force officer during a wellness check on June 4, 2020. The officer says a woman threatened him with a knife before the shooting. (Chantel Moore/Facebook)

The Edmundston Police Force says it will test body-worn cameras ahead of a wider rollout to its officers in the aftermath of the shooting death of Chantel Moore.

Mychèle Poitras, a spokesperson for the City of Edmundston, said the police force will receive two cameras for an initial trial, followed by cameras for all uniformed officers in the next few months.

It's one of the changes underway in the wake of Moore's death one year ago.

Moore, 26, was shot and killed by an Edmundston officer during a wellness check in the northwestern New Brunswick city on June 4, 2020. 

On Monday, prosecutors announced the officer would not face criminal charges based on a review of evidence gathered by Quebec's police watchdog agency. 

Moore's family members are now looking at other avenues for accountability.

"Just because there is no criminal charge does not mean that the City of Edmundston and the officer are off the hook for civil culpability," T.J. Burke, a lawyer who represents Moore's estate, said Tuesday. 

Martha Martin, mother of Chantel Moore, at a ceremony put on by the community at St. Mary's First Nation in honour of her daughter earlier this month. (Ed Hunter)

Burke said a wrongful death lawsuit will be filed against the city and officer within the coming weeks.

A summary of the evidence was released by the New Brunswick's Public Prosecutions Services on Monday. 

It said the lone officer, which CBC has previously reported is Const. Jeremy Son, went to Moore's apartment on a balcony on the third floor using an exterior set of stairs early on June 4. 

The officer told investigators Moore came out of the apartment with a steak knife and came toward him. He said he told her to drop the knife, but shot her after she continued toward him, cornering him against a railing on the third-floor balcony.

Moore was shot three times in the chest and once in the shin, according to a summary of the autopsy report.

The shooting happened on a third-floor balcony outside Moore's Edmundston apartment. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Because the force doesn't have body cameras, the summary is based largely on the officer's account.

The summary revealed the police force normally only had one Taser per shift. The officer who shot Moore did not have one that night, and didn't attempt to use his baton or pepper spray. 

The summary noted the officer, a use-of-force instructor with the police force, expressed regret for not moving toward an exit instead of the railing. 

"He acknowledges that had he done that, the sequence of events may have had a different outcome," the summary stated. 

Poitras said in an email the city has increased the number of Tasers to five from the previous two, enough to equip all of its patrol officers.

Code of conduct complaint

The planned civil lawsuit will be one of several examinations of the shooting. 

Burke filed a code of conduct complaint against the officer last year on behalf of Moore's family. 

The New Brunswick Police Commission's examination of the complaint was put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. 

The complaint calls for the officer's dismissal based on five alleged violations of a police code of conduct.

They are that the officer improperly used or cared for his firearm, abused his authority, was neglectful in his duty, acted in a discreditable manner and was oppressive or abusive to Moore.

Burke, who has represented police officers who were the subject of code of conduct complaints, said the next step involves the commission assigning someone to investigate the complaint.

The complaint will be investigated and a decision made within six months on whether there's sufficient evidence to establish the officer violated the code, the commission's executive director Jennifer Smith said in a statement. 

"As a lawyer who's done a significant amount of these police complaints, I think that the police commission should look at this with significant scrutiny, considering that the shooting officer was a use-of-force instructor in the police department," Burke said.

If there is sufficient evidence, the complaint will proceed to a settlement conference to determine how to handle the findings.

The city has said the officer will remain on administrative duties pending the outcome of the code of conduct investigation. 

Beyond the complaint, a coroner's inquest has been scheduled for Dec. 6. 

The inquest will examine the circumstances of the shooting, but the process doesn't assign blame. A jury hears the evidence and can issue recommendations on how to potentially avoid similar deaths in the future.