Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)

Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

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A month after the release of an independent probe into the death of Chantel Moore, her family still waits for answers.

Quebec’s police watchdog the Bureau des Enquêtes Indépendantes, or BEI, has completed its investigation into the police shooting death of the 26-year-old mom annd member of the Tofino-area Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

A brief summary of the BEI report was released on Dec. 16, but Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, told Black Press Media that the report itself has not been made available to Moore’s family.

“It’s very frustrating to the family and to [Moore’s mother] Martha that this report is not being released to them. They have been waiting for over seven months. There are just so many unanswered questions. Even though the report is out, they still don’t have justice,” Sayers said.

In the early morning hours of June 4, 2020, Moore was fatally shot by a police officer at her residence in Edmundston, New Brunswick during a wellness check. The BEI summary outlines the events that took place.

According to the summary, around 2:06 a.m., a person called the Edmundston Police Force to check on the well-being of Moore. At about 2: 32 a.m., a police officer arrived at her house and knocked on her living room window several times.

Moore opened the door to her house, “armed with a knife and walked towards the police officer”. The officer stepped back on the balcony and asked Moore to let go of the knife several times, without success. The statement says the officer then fired his gun at Moore. The BEI statement goes on to say the officer immediately administered first aid. Paramedics called to the scene noted Moore’s death at 2:45 a.m.

The BEI report into the shooting was sent to the New Brunswick public prosecutions service as well as the coroner on Dec. 16. The prosecutor will determine whether charges will be laid.

The full report produced by the BEI contains sensitive information, names of people involved as well as statements from witnesses.

“Consequently, no further information on the facts or the investigation will be disclosed by the BEI,” reads the statement.

In a Dec. 23, 2020 news release, the New Brunswick Public Prosecutions Services, Office of the Attorney General, acknowledged the final report received from Quebec’s BEI.

“Public Prosecutions Services is taking the time to examine these findings to determine what steps will be taken. It is expected the examination of these findings will take several weeks,” reads the Dec. 23 news release.

“Public Prosecutions Services will not be commenting on the findings of the investigation while the matter is being examined,” the news release states.

Sayers believes the BEI may have intentionally released the report at a time when people were preparing for the holidays.

“It was insensitive to release this info before Christmas. The timing was suspicious,” said Sayers.

On June 20, 2020, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (TFN) hereditary chiefs and elected council released a statement demanding that the police officer who killed Chantel Moore be charged with murder under Canada’s Criminal Code.

The statement also called for an independent, Tla-o-qui-aht-approved inquiry into Moore’s death, as well as sweeping changes in the way Canada addresses issues of systemic racism and mental health within its police forces.

TFN chief Moses Martin says, as far as their demands for justice go, nothing has changed.

“We believe she was murdered,” Moses said in a Jan. 18 email to the Westerly.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council also wants to see charges laid.

“We’re hoping there will be charges toward the police officer. It just doesn’t make sense that a small woman wielding a knife and then she comes out in a way to protect herself, I think the police officer could have side stepped her or he could have just ran down the stairs and asked for back-up,” Sayers said.

“There are so many things that could have been done.”

In a Jan. 18 email to the Westerly, the New Brunswick’s Office of the Chief Coroner confirmed there will be an inquest into this case following the conclusion of the criminal investigation and any court processes that may result from the investigation.

“It is worth noting there will be a public hearing on the facts of this case,” says Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the Government of New Brunswick.

Black Press Media has reached out to the City of Edmundston for a comment, but did not receive a reply.

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nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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READ: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation wants murder charge laid against police officer who shot Chantel Moore

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