INDEPTH: NEIL STONECHILD|
Neil Stonechild: Timeline
CBC News Online | Updated Nov. 3, 2005
In 1990, the frozen body of an aboriginal teenager was found on the outskirts of Saskatoon. Police ruled Neil Stonechild's death was accidental, sparking anger among the aboriginal community. There had been rumours that police routinely drove aboriginal men to the outskirts of town in the dead of winter and left them to make their way home.
Stonechild's case faded from the public eye for 10 years until two more aboriginal men were found frozen to death on the outskirts of Saskatoon within one week. Finally, in 2003, the provincial government agreed to repeated demands that it call an inquiry into Stonechild's death. Here's a timeline of events since Stonechild's death in 1990.
Nov. 29, 1990
Neil Stonechild, 17, is found frozen to death in a remote field on the outskirts of Saskatoon. He is partially clothed and wearing one shoe. His family believes his death is the result of police foul play. His mother Stella Bignell, questions how her son ended up in that area of Saskatoon wearing only one shoe on a -28C night.
Saskatoon police conclude Stonechild died trying to walk from a convenience store to the correctional centre where he was going to surrender himself. Stonechild was wanted for escaping his youth group home where he was serving a sentence for breaking and entering.
Jan. 19, 2000
Lloyd Dustyhorn, 53, is found frozen to death in Saskatoon. He had been taken into police custody the night before for public intoxication.
Jan. 28, 2000
Darrell Night, says police officers picked him up on this morning for no reason, drove him to the outskirts of Saskatoon, and left him there. Weather conditions were well below -22 C and he was only wearing a jean jacket and summer shoes.
Jan. 29, 2000
Rodney Naistus, 25, is found frozen to death without a shirt. He is in the same area Night was the day before, in the southwest industrial area of Saskatoon near the Queen Elizabeth power station.
Feb. 3, 2000
Lawrence Wegner, 30, last seen alive banging on a relative's door Jan. 30 in Saskatoon, is found frozen to death wearing only a T-shirt, jeans and socks. He is found in the same southwest industrial area.
Feb. 4, 2000
Night comes forward and alleges that police officers kicked him out of a police cruiser near the power station on a frigid night. He says he was only wearing a jean jacket and summer shoes. Saskatoon police Chief Dave Scott orders an investigation.
Feb. 10, 2000
Veteran police officers Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson are suspended with pay after they admit to picking up Night and driving him to the outskirts of town.
Feb. 16, 2000
Scott asks the province to appoint RCMP investigators. Saskatchewan Justice Department calls on RCMP to take over the investigation.
Feb. 21, 2000
Saskatchewan's Justice Minister Chris Axworthy refuses to call an inquiry into the general relations between the aboriginal community and the justice system saying the province needs to wait until the RCMP completes its criminal investigation into the deaths of Wegner and Naistus, and the alleged police abuse of Night.
Feb. 22, 2000
RCMP decide not to reopen the Neil Stonechild investigation saying they're too busy.
At the same time, the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan and the Metis National Council call for an independent judicial inquiry into the provincial justice system.
March 10, 2000
Hatchen and Munson are now suspended without pay upsetting both police officers and aboriginals. Police officers say the duo should be paid until they are tried by the court of law and aboriginals say the two should be fired.
March 20, 2000
RCMP task force completes an investigation into Darrell Night's allegations.
March 21, 2000
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations hires a private investigator to look into allegations of police brutality against aboriginals.
March 24, 2000
RCMP task force receives 25 complaints about officers. Three of the complaints involve abandonment.
April 10, 2000
Hatchen and Munson are charged with unlawful confinement and assault.
Stonechild's body is exhumed.
May 8-10, 2001
The inquest into Lloyd Dustyhorn's death is held. The jury concludes that his death was accidental and caused by hypothermia. It recommends establishing an emergency detoxification centre where non-violent intoxicated individuals could be taken instead of jail.
Sept. 10, 2001
An all-white jury, seven men and five women, is picked to try Hatchen and Munson.
Sept. 20, 2001
Hatchen and Munson are found guilty of unlawful confinement.
Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2001
The inquest into the death of Rodney Naistus is held. The jury concludes that Naistus died of hypothermia but fails to determine the circumstances leading to his death. Recommendations are all related to police policies, and police and aboriginal relations.
Oct. 30, 2001
Lawyers for Hatchen and Munson request a native sentencing circle, much to the dismay of the aboriginal community.
The inquest into the death of Lawrence Wegner is held. The jury concludes Wegner died of hypothermia but fails to determine the circumstances leading to his death.
Feb. 20, 2003
Saskatchewan's justice minister, Eric Cline, calls an inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild.
March 13, 2003
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejects Munson and Hatchen's appeal and upholds their eight-month jail sentence. The officers must turn themselves in to officials at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.
April 30, 2003
Groups and individuals interesting in taking part in the Neil Stonechild inquiry present arguments to the Commissioner of the inquiry, Mr. Justice David Wright.
May 13, 2003
Mr. Justice David Wright hands down his ruling on groups and individuals who have applied for official standing and funding in the Neil Stonechild inquiry. Members of the Saskatoon Police Department and the Stonechild family are among those granted standing.
Aug. 22, 2003
Former Saskatoon police officers, Ken Munson and Dan Hatchen are released from a low-security correctional facility in Saskatoon after serving about half of their 8 month sentences for convictions of unlawful confinement.
Aug. 25, 2003
A preliminary hearing of the Neil Stonechild inquiry is held in Saskatoon to determine the admissibility of certain evidence. Inquiry Commissioner, Mr. Justice David Wright closes the proceedings to the public. Reporters are prohibited from reporting details of the hearing.
Sept. 8, 2003
The public inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild begins in Saskatoon. Members of Stonechild's family testify they were upset by the condition of the 17-year-old's body.
The inquiry is scheduled to run until October 23. The purpose of the inquiry is to examine the circumstances that led to Stonechild's death and the conduct of the police investigation that followed.
Sept. 9, 2003
The last social worker to have contact Stonechild testifies that government policy prevented her from coming forward about the teenager's death.
Jason Roy, a friend of Stonechild's, begins his testimony. He says he saw Stonechild in a police car the last night he was seen alive.
Sept. 11, 2003
Under cross-examination Roy has difficulty remembering details of his previous statements.
Since Stonechild's death, Roy has maintained that the last time he saw Stonechild he was in the back seat of a Saskatoon police cruiser, bloody, beaten and yelling: "They're going to kill me."
Sept. 12, 2003
Aaron Fox, who represents one of the Saskatoon police, questions Jason Roy during his second day of cross-examination.
Among the inconsistencies he focused on was what Roy told RCMP about Stonechild's state of mind versus what he told the inquiry on Tuesday. In his police statement Roy said Stonechild was angry with him on the evening of Stonechild's disappearance and that their last conversation was filled with profanity. At the inquiry, he doesn't mention anger or swearing when describing the same night.
Sept. 16, 2003
Garry Horse, who received a visit from Stonechild on the last night anyone saw him alive, testifies that the RCMP only approached him for questioning 10 years after Stonechild was found frozen to death. He also tells the lawyer for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations that the Saskatoon police never contacted him.
Sept. 17, 2003
The inquiry sees autopsy photos taken after Neil Stonechild's frozen body was found in 1990. The pictures show cuts on Stonechild's face.
Alberta's Chief Medical Examiner Graeme Dowling, who took part in the investigation of Stonechild's death after the RCMP asked him to examine Stonechild's exhumed body in 2000, testifies that he found no life-threatening injuries on Stonechild's body. He could not say whether a fall or a beating caused cuts on Stonechild's face.
Nov. 24, 2003
Inquiry into death of Neil Stonechild resumes after a one-month break. Keith Jarvis, the Saskatoon police officer who was in charge of the initial investigation, testifies that he didn't get much co-operation from Stonechild's friends or family and was forced to close the case. Already over-budget, the inquiry is slated for another month of hearings.
Jan. 5, 2004
Jim Maddin, an ex-police officer and former mayor of Saskatoon, testifies that he heard rumours of a link between Stonechild and two other police officers. None of the other Saskatoon police officers interviewed by the RCMP mentioned any such link.
Jan. 9, 2004
Saskatoon's deputy police chief, Dan Wiks, testifies that the original investigation into Stonechild's death was incomplete. He said Keith Jarvis didn't interview most of the possible witnesses and closed the file without explanation.
March 8, 2004
The inquiry resumes. A lawyer from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations presents evidence of a "parallel investigation" set up by Saskatoon police to deal with questions that could come up in the inquiry.
March 17, 2004
Saskatoon's deputy police chief Dan Wiks is put on leave after giving testimony at the inquiry. Wiks testified that he had misspoken when he told the media in 2003 there was nothing linking two police officers to the disappearance of Stonechild. Wiks had, in fact, seen a summary of an RCMP probe that considered the two officers suspects.
May 19, 2004
Final arguments at the Neil Stonechild inquiry conclude.
Sept. 1, 2004
Saskatoon's deputy police chief is charged with disreputable conduct, under the Police Act. The Stonechild inquiry had found that Dan Wiks lied about the investigation into Stonechild's death in 1990. Saskatoon's police chief Russell Sabo says the matter will go before a disciplinary hearing that will be open to the public.
Oct. 26, 2004
The provincial government releases the final report of the inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild. It comes down hard on police, saying there's clear evidence that Saskatoon police did have Stonechild in custody the night he was last seen alive. The report also criticized police for maintaining a defensive wall that last into the inquiry. The report made eight recommendations, including better training in race relations and anger management for police officers and a system that would make it easier to file complaints against police officers.
Nov. 12, 2004
Saskatoon police chief Russ Sabo fires two officers Constables Larry Hartwig and Bradley Senger at the centre of the Stonechild case. The officers have maintained they had no contact with Stonechild.
May 5, 2005
An arbitration hearing begins to determine if the firing of the two Saskatoon police officers was justified. During the testimony for the hearing, Hartwig denies he ever had Stonechild in custody. The hearing would continue until Oct. 31, 2005.
Nov. 1, 2005
The family of Neil Stonechild sues Saskatoon's police force and several individual officers, including Hartwig and Senger.
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The Stonechild Inquiry