New Brunswick

Investigation of shooting death of Chantel Moore could take months

An independent investigation of a police officer's actions leading up to the shooting death of Chantel Moore early Thursday in New Brunswick could take months to complete. The case has drawn national attention during a time of increased focus on police practices.

26-year-old woman from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation killed Thursday in northwestern New Brunswick

Chantel Moore, 26, grew up on Vancouver Island but left recently to live in New Brunswick where she joined her mother and five-year-old daughter, Gracie. CBC has permission from Chantel Moore's family to use the photos included in this story. (Chantel Moore/Facebook)

An independent investigation of a police officer's actions leading up to the shooting death of Chantel Moore early Thursday in New Brunswick could take months to complete as First Nations leaders and federal ministers call for answers.

Eight investigators with Quebec's independent police watchdog group are investigating her death in Edmundston. 

Moore, a 26-year-old woman from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, was shot as police were carrying out a wellness check. 

Police in the northwestern New Brunswick city say Moore ran out of her apartment onto a balcony with a knife, threatening the officer, who then shot her. 

In a news release, Quebec's Independent Investigations Office said it will determine if the information released by police is correct. 

Sylvie Boutin, a spokesperson for the organization, said no interviews will be provided during the investigation, which could take a few months to complete.

Investigators on a balcony Friday near the scene of the shooting in Edmundston. (Radio-Canada)

Sharon Dumont lives in an apartment close to where Moore lived. Dumont told Radio-Canada she heard multiple shots early Thursday. 

Nora Martin, Moore's great-aunt, said the family was told that the officer had shot Moore five times. 

Edmundston police said Thursday the officer didn't attempt to use non-lethal force, though that would be part of the independent investigation. The force in the city of 16,500 along the border with Maine does not use body cameras. 

Ruth Levi, a council member of Elsipogtog First Nation, said she felt anger when she heard the news of Moore’s death. (Gail Harding/CBC)

Moore's death has drawn national attention at a time of increased scrutiny on the use of force by police in Canada and the United States.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, speaking during a news conference Friday in Ottawa, said he's "outraged" by the continuing pattern of police violence against Indigenous people in Canada.

"I don't understand how someone dies during a wellness check," Miller said about Moore's death, adding when he first heard about it he thought it was some kind of a morbid joke.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says there is a 'pattern' of police violence against Indigenous people in Canada, citing the shooting death of a New Brunswick woman earlier this week and a video that appears to show police in Kinngait, Nunavut, striking a man with the door of a pickup truck. 2:00

Locally, few leaders are talking publicly about what happened. 

Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard has yet to comment. 

Madawaska Maliseet First Nation Chief Patricia Bernard, whose community is close to  Edmundston, did not respond to an interview request.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and other provincial ministers also did not respond to an interview request Friday.

The scene of a shooting in downtown Edmundston was surrounded by police tape Thursday afternoon. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Ross Perley, chief of Neqotkuk, a Wolastoqey community about 100 kilometres south of Edmundston, expressed disappointment with the incident that happened just over a year after the release of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

"Makes me feel disappointed that we had a year to come up with solutions to this problem," Perley said in an interview. 

Unanswered questions

Ruth Levi, council member of Elsipogtog First Nation in eastern New Brunswick, said she felt "lots of anger" when she heard the news of Moore's death.

"Is he fully trained, this man? The question comes to my mind," Levi said about the officer who shot Moore early Thursday morning.

A spokesperson for the city said neither the municipality or the police force would be commenting now that the independent investigation is underway.

Shooting condemned

First Nations leaders in British Columbia where Moore was born issued a statement Thursday evening condemning the police actions and expressed outrage over her "tragic and senseless death."

Doug White, chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council, said the government has failed to act on the MMIWG inquiry report. 

"De-escalation training and racial bias training is urgently needed across this country to avoid another senseless loss," White said.

Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett tweeted Thursday that her heart is with Moore's family, friends and community. 

"Another Indigenous woman is no longer with us," Bennett wrote. "Significant work remains to ensure that all Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people have access to the supports they need and can walk safely, wherever they live."

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, representing 14 First Nations along the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, issued a statement calling for answers. 

"The family and community of Chantel needs answers as to why she was shot on a health check by the police," the statement said. "Justice must not wait and every power must be exerted to ensure that justice is served in an appropriate, immediate, and respectful way."

The council also called for police practices that de-escalate situations and to use trauma-informed approaches.

CBC has permission from Chantel Moore's family to use the photos included in this story. 

With files from Rachel Cave, Logan Perley and Radio-Canada

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