Thunder Bay

OPP suspends officer, orders new investigation after man allegedly left on remote northern highway in 2019

The former Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment commander in a remote northern township has been suspended pending a new investigation into allegations of misconduct, CBC News has confirmed.

Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek leadership had called for the officer to be fired

A man wearing a blue suit speaks at a podium with a woman standing behind.
Wilfred King, chief of Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (Gull Bay First Nation), pictured in this file photo at a news conference on Parliament Hill, says he is happy to hear Ontario Provincial Police have suspended Sgt. Tammy Bradley and launched a new investigation into alleged wrongdoing. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The former Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment commander in a remote northern township has been suspended pending a new investigation into allegations of misconduct, including that the officer had left an Ojibway First Nation man at the side of a highway in 2019, CBC News has confirmed.

Sgt. Tammy Bradley faces at least two other serious complaints by staff and members of Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA, also known as Gull Bay).

Wilfred King, chief of the First Nation, recently called for the officer to be fired, and demanded a meeting with OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique to discuss his community's concerns over a lack of transparency in the current police investigation.

King and Carrique met at the end of November, and within one week, Carrique confirmed to King that the OPP had suspended Bradley.

"I don't feel the [first] investigation was thorough, so we're quite happy that the commissioner agreed that [Bradley] should be suspended pending the outcome of this investigation," King said in an interview with CBC News.

Suspension result of 'new allegations': OPP

The investigation will be completed by the Six Nations Police Service, King said, and a meeting is planned for January to discuss logistics and details about how it will unfold.

"It's been like 2½ years since the initial complaint went in in 2019. I would have thought that because of the seriousness of the allegations, that things would have been done expeditiously and professionally, so yeah, it took a long time," said King.

Bill Dickson, an OPP spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that Bradley was suspended as "a result of new allegations that were brought to the attention of the OPP," and the service will remain in close contact with King in the coming weeks.

Previously, the OPP said it had already investigated allegations Bradley had left the man on the side of the highway 10 minutes outside Armstrong township, and told him not to return or he would be charged with trespassing. 

Armstrong is 250 kilometres north of Thunder Bay and 70 kilometres north of KZA, where the man was found. He had been forced to walk along the highway for more than 10 hours in the summer heat, drinking from puddles on the side of the road and having an encounter with a family of bears.

The OPP spokesperson said at the time that Bradley had been reassigned to "non-front-line duties" in another part of Ontario since February 2022, but would not say if she faced any disciplinary action.

In an interview with CBC in November, the man in the highway incident, Jeremiah Skunk of Mishkeegogamang First Nation, said he believed he could have died and that Bradley should be fired.

None of the allegations against Bradley have been tested or proven in court.

Support to be offered to impacted individuals

Chantelle Bryson, a lawyer representing KZA, said to prepare for the investigation, they are working to ensure there are appropriate support persons and help for those impacted.

"The victims are terrified of the OPP. These are complaints against a sergeant of the OPP and they're very serious complaints of gross abuse of authority and criminal conduct," Bryson said.

The preparation and support persons will ensure victims will be able to tell their story uninterrupted from start to finish, and will have time to consider any witnesses and retrieve any supporting documents or evidence, the lawyer said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Chantelle Bryson, left, legal representative for KZA, is shown alongside King at the Ottawa news conference earlier this month. She says appropriate supports must be provided for the people who brought forward complaints against Bradley. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Despite these meetings and the coming new investigation, King said he doesn't know if the OPP will be able to repair trust with the community.

The First Nation has its own police service but just two active officers, and in a charter challenge filed Dec. 5 to the Federal Court, Ottawa is accused of having provided chronic inequitable funding for policing services, leading to a public safety crisis in the community.

Due to the lack of officers, KZA often relies on OPP officers from the Armstrong detachment for backup and to help respond to calls for service.

"I'm not sure we can ever have that full trust again," King told CBC News.

There is no timeline for when the legal challenge could be resolved, but King said he hopes it will lead to equitable funding and resources provided to KZA that will help change the quality of policing in the First Nation and its reliance on the OPP.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Turner

Journalist

Logan Turner has been working as a journalist for CBC News, based in Thunder Bay, since graduating from journalism school at UBC in 2020. Born and raised along the north shore of Lake Superior in Robinson-Superior Treaty Territory, Logan covers a range of stories focused on health, justice, Indigenous communities, racism and the environment. You can reach him at logan.turner@cbc.ca.

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