Report Questions Thunder Bay Police Response to Man's Death

Report Questions Thunder Bay Police Response to Man's Death

Created: March 06, 2018 04:03 PM

In a case receiving national attention in Canada, First Nations leaders are calling for the resignation of the Thunder Bay Police Chief after an independent review questioned the department's response to an indigenous man's death in 2015.

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The body of 41-year-old Stacy DeBungee of Rainy River First Nations was found in the McIntyre River in 2015. Family members say a detective told them of a theory that DeBungee had passed out, rolled nine to ten feet into the river, and drowned.

However, a report by Ontario's Office of the Independent Police Review Director questions police efforts to investigate the death. The report says investigators didn't take formal statements from any of the people who were with DeBungee before his death and weren't aware that a witness had told an officer about a physical altercation at the scene the night before his body was found.

The report also says police issued a news release calling the death "non-criminal" before an autopsy had been performed. It says that the evidence shows that detectives prematurely concluded that DeBungee had rolled into the river on his own, and that the conclusion may have been drawn because DeBungee was indigenous.

The report alleges discreditable conduct and neglect of duty by two officers, and neglect of duty by a third officer. The Thunder Bay Police Service said a notice of hearing had not yet been served on the affected officers as of Monday.

The police service said it is legally barred from commenting on the investigation at this point in the process.

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