RCMP made errors in Wagmatcook shooting: commission
Lack of disciplinary action is 'of profound public concern'
The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP says errors in judgment and poor decision-making played a significant role in the fatal shooting of a man in Wagmatcook, N.S., in 2008.
Const. Jeremy Frenette shot John Simon at his home on the Wagmatcook First Nations reserve in December 2008. The officer responded after another resident called police to deal with an allegedly drunk, suicidal and armed Simon.
A Halifax police investigation cleared Frenette of any criminal wrongdoing in Simon’s death and the RCMP failed to launch a disciplinary review of his actions within a year of Simon's death, as it is required to do by law.
The commission announced its intention to launch an inquiry in March 2010, saying that public concerns about the police investigation caused it to get involved.
The report, which was made public Friday, said the lack of disciplinary process for the officers involved in the incident is a matter of profound public concern.
The RCMP responded by accepting most of the report's findings in a media conference Friday afternoon.
The commission found that the senior RCMP member on the scene failed to order Frenette to pull back from the residence when he knew or ought to have known that the constable was considering entering the house. The report said Frenette acted in an inappropriate manner by entering the home.
It found that once inside, Frenette did have sufficient grounds to believe his life was in jeopardy as Simon confronted the officer by aiming a rifle at him.
The RCMP has accepted 10 of the commission's 12 findings and agreed with all 11 recommendations put forward. These range from individual remedial training to a review of training related to how officers handle incidents involving barricaded individuals.
Blair McKnight, RCMP chief superintendent, said the RCMP regrets the role it played in Simon's death and said the force intends to personally apologize to the family and the Wagmatcook band.
"We acknowledge that the command and control of the scene and the operational planning surrounding the event did not meet the best standards of policing," he said.
McKnight said the RCMP in Nova Scotia has made a number of changes in response to the commission's recommendations.
These include a new policy on critical incidents, including those involving barricaded persons; an updated training curriculum; an increased emphasis on the management of critical incidents and a commitment to ensuring investigations involving RCMP employees are completed in a timely manner.