Saskatoon

'Everyone is disappointed': Inquest into death of Jordan Lafond postponed until June

Jordan Lafond died after the stolen truck he was riding in crashed into a fence on the outskirts of Saskatoon.

Lafond died after stolen truck crashed into fence on outskirts of Saskatoon

Jordan Lafond's grandmother Grace Lafond-Barr outside the courthouse in Saskatoon on Monday. (CBC News)

An inquest into the death of Jordan Lafond, which was scheduled to take place this week, will be postponed until June.

Lafond died after the stolen truck he was riding in crashed into a fence on the outskirts of Saskatoon. 

But whether or not it was the crash that killed him — and whether police could have played a role in his death — is still unclear.

Family was ready for inquest

Chris Murphy is representing Jordan Lafond's family at the inquest. 

"Obviously the family of Jordan was here and ready to face this process. I think it's fair to say that everyone is disappointed," Murphy said outside of court Monday. 

"Everyone was ready to go today."

The postponement was ordered Monday after one of the lawyers at the inquest was sick and could not attend the hearing. After jury selection on Monday, the hearing is expected to resume June 25.

Jordan Lafond's family says he was a loving father. The circumstances of his death in a crash near Saskatoon will be the focus of an inquest this week. (Submitted by Charmaine Dreaver)

A five-woman, one-man jury was selected on Monday. 

Four of those jurors were Indigenous — three of them from a specially-selected jury pool of Indigenous people and one other who was self-identified. 

That request can be made at inquests but not criminal trials.

"I think that was a very fair process we engaged in today with the jury," Murphy said. 

Lafond's family hoping for answers

Lafond's family is hoping for answers. They want to know whether or not the injuries from the crash killed him.

"Emotions have been up and down. A lot of tears, a lot of anger, a lot of sadness. Because we don't know what happened to Jordan," said Grace Lafond-Barr, Lafond's grandmother. 

An inquest is a fact-finding exercise and no charges will be laid regardless of the findings. 

Lafond-Barr wants to know what her grandson was doing in the stolen truck that night, but more importantly what happened during his arrest.  How badly hurt was the 21-year-old when a police officer used his knee subdue him? 

"We didn't hear the truth when we were told of Jordan's injuries. It would be nice to know what happened to him," she said. 

Chris Murphy is the lawyer representing Jordan Lafond's family at the inquest into his death. He spoke outside of Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench on March 5, 2018. (CBC)

Story about crash changed

Police initially said Lafond was found underneath the tire of the truck that had crashed into a fence near Bethlehem Catholic High School.

They said at that time that he died of injuries resulting from that crash, but a few weeks later the story changed.

Then-police Chief Clive Weighill revealed that officers believed Lafond was resisting arrest. Weighill acknowledged that an officer used his knee to subdue Lafond and that he was handcuffed. 

Yes maybe he was in a stolen vehicle. But that doesn't mean you should end his life over it.- Grace Lafond-Barr, Jordan Lafond's grandmother

The police chief could not say whether the officer's use of force contributed to Lafond's death.   

The officer is now back on regular duties. 

More questions were raised when police downgraded the initial charge of dangerous driving causing death against the driver of the stolen truck.

"We weren't in a position to prove that the accident — or the collision, in this case — caused the death," the Crown prosecutor said at the time. 

Police say internal investigation was completed

In a statement released Monday, the police service confirmed there was an internal investigation into Lafond's death, and that there was oversight from the province. The results of that internal investigation will come out at the inquest, police said. 

"This inquest is part of a larger process to examine the incident and is neither the first step nor the last, but is an important one," said Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper. 

"We recognize this is a stressful time for all involved including the family, our members and the larger community."

The statement said the police service intends to co-operate fully with the inquest. 

The officer in question was put on administrative leave during the investigation, but has since returned to regular duty. 

Family hopes good can come out of inquest

His family describes Lafond as a new father who loved his daughter and worked hard at a roofing company. He liked to live a fast-paced life, Lafond-Barr said. 

She said that despite the tears, despite the grief she's experienced in the last year and a half, she hopes something good can come out of her grandson's death.

"Yes maybe he was in a stolen vehicle. But that doesn't mean you should end his life over it. That's what I said. I would like to bring some humanity to this," she said. 

CBC reporter Charles Hamilton will be reporting live from the inquest. You can follow his tweets below. On mobile? Click here.

About the Author

Charles Hamilton is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.

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