Anger clear across the country after Indigenous woman shot by police officer
EDMUNDSTON, N.B. -- There was anger clear across the country on Friday after an Indigenous woman from British Columbia was shot and killed in this small New Brunswick city by a police officer.
The situation has raised many questions -- questions the Edmundston police force isn't answering.
Chantel Moore is from Tlaoquiaht First Nation near Tofino, B.C.and recently celebrated her 26th birthday.
She moved to Edmundston two months ago to be closer to her five year old daughter.
Early Thursday morning, Edmundston police say they were called to Moore's apartment for a wellness check.
Police say when the officer arrived, Moore threatened him with a knife.
"I don't think that she would do that," said Chantel's grandmother Nora Martin. "We don't believe that she would attack anybody; that was not in her nature."
Insp. Steve Robinson of the Edmundston police described the scenario as he understands it.
"The officer tried to back up, but he was stuck and had to try and defend himself," Robinson said.
The officer used his gun, but it's not clear how many bullets were fired.
"We cannot comment on that right now," Robinson said.
Moore couldn't be revived and on Friday, Edmundston police would not comment on the case.
Moore's family is still in shock.
"We don't understand why they would have to do that," Martin said. "Why couldn't they have used a Taser on her? Why couldn't they have shot in her in the leg or the arm to stop her?"
Why is a question many others have too,
and the unanswered questions have only caused anger.
"I don't understand how someone dies during a wellness check?" said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller. "When I first saw the report, I thought it was some morbid joke and you look at it and you say, 'yes, there'll be an independent investigation, but frankly, along with many Canadians, Indigenous peoples living in Canada, politicians, I'm pissed. I'm outraged."
Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is demanding a proper response that includes the family.
"The killing of Chantel Moore was systemically premeditated by generations of inaction," said B.C. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. "Her family's loss is heartbreaking, and it is made more so by how familiar this loss has become for our communities.”
Edmundston police have asked the RCMP to help with the investigation. The RCMP then requested the help of Quebec’s independent police watchdog. Eight of their investigators arrived on scene last night.
"Sadly, the only definitive thing is, is that, Chantel Moore is dead and didn't need to be," said criminologist Michael Boudreau.
It's the only piece of the puzzle we know for certain, but Boudreau says officers are trained to de-escalate situations and that "reaching for the sidearm is not the first step -- in most cases."
"Why did the officer use lethal force as the first response to this situation?" Boudreau said. "Should he have not tried to use non-lethal force? Whether that be a Taser, or to call for backup, to return to his patrol car and to wait until additional officers came?"
Boudreau says the situation heightens the distrust some feel toward police.
The officer is now off work, but it's not clear if he's been formally suspended with or without pay.
Another question, added to a list that grows longer by the day.