Mother of man who died in Summerside police shooting calls for answers
SIRT investigation into shooting ongoing
The mother of a man who died after being shot by Summerside police earlier this year says she's disappointed she's been left "in the dark" with few clear answers from officials.
Jeremy Stephens, 32, died in hospital on May 27 after being shot during an altercation with police as they tried to arrest him in connection with an incident at a local motel earlier that morning. The Stephens family has said physicians told them Stephens was shot six times by Summerside police.
In a written statement released Monday, Gilda Stephens says she has yet to receive "clear answers" to her questions and has received "confusing" information from government officials.
She goes on to say there's been a delay in receiving her son's records from a variety of sources, and says she has yet to receive the report from the post-mortem investigation from the coroner's office.
"What Gilda wants is to have the records," said Julie Kirkpatrick, the lawyer representing Gilda Stephens. "She does not want to receive the interpretation of those records from others, she would like to see them for her own eyes and try to get to the bottom of what happened when Jeremy was shot."
'A lot of rumours'
Kirkpatrick said Stephens has received some information from her son's medical records from Prince County Hospital, but she is still waiting for a number of other agencies and government officials to release records to the family.
"What Jeremy's family has experienced and what Jeremy's mother has experienced is a lot of rumours flying around and that can be very difficult to deal with. You hear bits and pieces of information from all sorts of sources and it's very hard to know what to believe and so that's why the written record is so important," Kirkpatrick said.
The family strongly believes that there should be an inquest into Jeremy's death to find out what happened, what went wrong and to make sure that there is not another police shooting like this in the province of Prince Edward Island.— Julie Kirkpatrick
In response, a spokesperson with the Department of Justice and Public Safety wrote, "The province acknowledges that it can take some time for families to receive post-mortem reports."
Family calls for inquest
In the statement, Stephens said she still feels an inquest should be held into her son's death, but has been told that decision won't be made until the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) investigation is complete, which could take many months.
"The family strongly believes that there should be an inquest into Jeremy's death to find out what happened, what went wrong and to make sure that there is not another police shooting like this in the province of Prince Edward Island," Kirkpatrick said.
The province confirmed that no decision will be made on an inquest until the coroner's office has received the SIRT report.
Stephens also says she's retained the services of two experts — one with expertise in special investigations and another specializing in forensic pathology.
"Eventually the information is going to come and we're going to need some help to interpret what that information contains," Kirkpatrick said.
"As you can imagine in a case like this there will be a lot of information and sometimes it's very difficult to interpret that information without help, so we have experts retained and ready."
In response to a request from CBC News, Summerside police declined to comment, directing questions to SIRT.
SIRT, meanwhile, says its investigation is ongoing. The Serious Incident Response Team is a civilian oversight agency called in to investigate serious incidents involving police.
Guilty plea in related case
Meanwhile one of the men charged in connection to the incident that happened prior to Stephens' death pleaded guilty in Summerside court Monday.
Scott Bruce Dalziel, 40, of Summerside pleaded guilty to breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence. Dalziel originally pleaded not guilty to the charge, but changed his plea Monday.
Court heard the break and enter happened at a Summerside motel where Dalziel and others, including Jeremy Stephens, were involved in an altercation over fake speed pills.
Dalziel was sentenced to 16 and a half months. He was found not guilty on a related robbery charge. Two others charged in the incident have yet to have their cases heard.