Chantel Moore's home First Nation says Edmundston police officer should be charged with murder

The Edmundston, N.B., police officer who shot and killed Chantel Moore should be charged with murder, according to leadership in her home community in B.C.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation says national inquiry needed into police brutality and mental health

Chantel Moore, 26, was shot dead by police in New Brunswick on June 4 during a 'wellness check' gone wrong. CBC has permission from Chantel Moore's family to use the photos included in this story. (Chantel Moore/Facebook)

The Edmundston, N.B., police officer who shot and killed Chantel Moore should be charged with murder, according to leadership in her home community in B.C.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation hereditary and elected leadership issued a statement Wednesday calling for the murder charge. The statement said Moore's family says the officer shot the 26-year-old mother five times "at close range" during a wellness check June 4. 

"It has been reported to the family that attempts at de-escalation were not made and non-lethal force was not attempted," said the statement. 

"We cannot help but believe the officer's intent was to end Chantel's life." 

The Edmundston police have said the police officer was defending himself because Moore, 26, had a knife and attacked the officer when she exited the apartment. Quebec's Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) was called in to probe the incident. 

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has about 1,200 members and sits on the west coast of Vancouver Island by Tofino, B.C.

The Tla-o-qui-aht statement said the officer who responded "was approximately 6'3 and weighed approximately 300 pounds" and "Chantel was approximately 5'4 and 130 pounds."

The statement said that there was a witness to the shooting, "but there is concern about harassment by the Edmundston police department."

A spokesperson for the City of Edmundston, responding on behalf of the police, said in an emailed statement that it couldn't comment until the BEI completed its investigation. 

The BEI did not respond to a request for comment.

Moore's family previously told CBC News a former boyfriend who lives in Toronto had asked police to check on her because she was being harassed. Edmundston police said Moore had received "strange" messages on Facebook.

First Nation says national inquiry needed

Moore was born in Edmundston, N.B., but moved to B.C. as a child and grew up in Nanaimo and Port Alberni, according to her family. She was adopted by a family from about age four until age 14 but ran away, and was raised by her grandmother after that in Port Alberni.

She had lived in Port Alberni for the past four years and recently saved money to move away, according to the family. Moore was the mother of a six-year-old daughter. 

The Tla-o-qui-aht statement called for a "full independent investigation" into Moore's killing that would involve experts approved or appointed by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and the RCMP. 

The statement also called for a full national inquiry into police brutality and mental health, five year-interval mental health and post-traumatic stress assessments of all police officers in Canada, regular screening for racism and improved equality training at the cadet level. 

"Since European contact racism has presented a huge barrier to justice for First Nations and other races of colour. This is reflected in the rate at which First Nations and other minorities are killed by police," said the statement.

"Chantel's killing appears to be senseless, avoidable and an act of systemic racism." 

Concerns about mental health of police

Tla-o-qui-aht Coun. Terry Dorward, who sits on the elected council, said the leadership decided to issue the statement to increase pressure on governments to make necessary and overdue changes. 

"The police and its institutions have a long legacy of conflict when dealing with Indigenous peoples, with Indigenous issues, that comes from the very top police commissioner right down to the front lines," said Dorward.

"We don't know why [front line officers] many, many times, they shoot first and ask questions last."

Dorward said the leadership said issues around the mental health of police officers needs to be directly addressed. 

"Are they healthy enough to be on the front-lines to deal with wellness checks?" he said. 

"There is a lot of work that needs to take place when it comes to First Nations and the RCMP and other police organizations." 

The BEI was also called in to investigate the RCMP shooting of 48-year-old Metepenagiag First Nation man Rodney Levi June 12 in another part of New Brunswick.

with files from CBC BC