Canadian Police-Involved Deaths in June 2023
At least nine people were killed through police actions in June 2023. This means that at least 44 people have had their lives taken through police actions at the halfway point of 2023.
At least 12 people had their lives taken in Canadian police actions in May 2023, the bloodiest month of police violence since October 2022. At least five people had their lives taken in police actions in April 2023, at least eight people in March, at least six people in February, and at least four people in January. In 2022, there were at least 117 police-involved deaths in Canada.
Five of the victims were shot by police. The officers who did the shootings were members of the Valleyview (Alberta) RCMP, BC RCMP, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC), Ottawa Police Service (OPS), and Sûreté du Québec (SQ). Four victims were reported to be in crisis at the time police were deployed against them. A fifth has been reported by loved ones to have struggled with mental health issues. He is the only person named publicly so far—Omar Mohammed. One person died in a fall. One person allegedly shot himself. One person died in custody.
The details below are based on police reports, reports from oversight agencies, and in some cases information from families. As always, because there are no formal, systemic mechanisms for documenting and reporting police killings publicly in Canada, all numbers presented for police-involved deaths represent an undercount.
In addition to the known cases, there are cases of police-involved deaths in June that have no reporting. The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia reports five deaths in June that were closed without any public report (RCMP in Chilliwack on June 3; RCMP in Prince George on June 12; Victoria Police Department in Esquimalt on June 21; RCMP in Surrey on June 21; RCMP in Fort St John on June 25).
June 5. RCMP. Valleyview, Alberta. Shooting.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating the Valleyview RCMP shooting and killing of a man on the night of June 5.
It is reported that RCMP claim officers were called about a report of a suicidal man with a firearm in the town of Valleyview, about 350 kilometers northwest of Edmonton. Police claim that when they arrived at the home, the man was outside with a firearm.
RCMP have only said that an officer fired their gun after police tried to talk to the man and defuse the situation. The victim died on the way to hospital.
No other details have been released at this time, including the nature of the police interaction with the man before killing him.
Police are not care and should not be deployed against people in mental health crisis.
June 5. Clarendon, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shooting.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) shot and killed a person in Clarendon, Quebec (85 km northwest of downtown Ottawa) on June 5. The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) reports that two police officers responded to a call regarding a family dispute that morning. They say that when the officers arrived at the scene, witnesses told them that the individual went to a shed behind the home. The two officers went to the shed where they claim the individual allegedly pointed a firearm at them. According to the BEI, “A police officer allegedly drew his firearm and fired at the person who fell inside the shed” (an oddly passive way of describing police shooting someone).
The BEI reports that police established a security perimeter around the home and following checks by officers the individual was found unconscious in the shed. He was declared dead.
June 10. Ontario Provincial Police. Tay Township.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the death of a 55-year-old man in crisis during a police action on June 10. They report that shortly after midnight a man called police to report that he intended to harm himself. In response, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers responded to a parking lot on Highway 12 in Tay Township.
It is reported that attempts were made to negotiate with the man over a period of several hours. At some point, the man allegedly shot himself. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:15 AM on the morning of June 10.
The SIU has assigned three investigators and two forensic investigators to examine the case.
June 12. Omar Mohammed. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Shooting.
The Serious Incident Response Team of Newfoundland and Labrador (SIRT-NL) has publicly identified Omar Mohammed, a 38-year-old Sudanese man, as the person who was shot and killed by police in St. John’s two weeks ago. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) shot and killed Mr. Mohammed on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John’s on June 12. SIRT-NL initially reported that the shooting happened at 10:50 AM NT in an area described as the site of several commercial and government offices. Mr. Mohammed was pronounced dead at the scene. An officer involved was reportedly injured but has since been released from hospital. The provincial government issued a release saying its employment centre at the Regatta Plaza is closed due to the SIRT investigation, and police were observed inside the centre.
In their June 27 statement to the public SIRT-NL director Mike King said that investigators have met with friends of Mr. Mohammed and obtained all relevant information they could provide. “We have now confirmed the identity of the deceased with his closest friend and roommate. We have also reached out to other members of the Sudanese community.”
He also announced, “We have now exhausted all efforts to notify the family of the deceased, but have been unable to do so. This is an ongoing criminal homicide investigation. We are still in the fact-finding process. Homicide investigations, in particular, due to their complexity and volume, take time.”
Members of St. John’s Sudanese community have called for more transparency, and release of information publicly in the weeks since the killing. They suspected from the start that Mr. Mohammed was the victim but received no confirmation until the SIRT-NL statement and have expressed a great deal of anxiety as a result. They had organized delegations to the RNC offices and contacted SIRT-NL.
They have said that Mr. Mohammed was a former child soldier who struggled with mental health crises and extreme trauma. He had come to Canada hoping to find a better life, but they say he never got the help he needed.
Choul William, a friend and roommate, told media that Omar Mohammed was moved in and out of a mental-health hospital in St. John’s and was released into a city where he lacked either a permanent home or job. He has asked, “Why did they shoot him when they know he has mental problems? He thought he was going to get good treatment and everything in his life is going to be changed.”
William said his friend made what little money he had by returning recyclables. He reports that on the morning of the shooting, Mr. Mohammed went to the grocery store and made breakfast. The two ate together before leaving home for the day. When Mr. Mohammed never came home and William saw news stories about the shooting, he phoned the police to report his friend missing and to ask if he was the man who had been shot.
Abubaker Hamed has questioned the police response and has questioned the role of racism in policing. In his words, “Considering that (Mohammed) has a history of mental illness, they are very worried, like why police are using excessive force to deal with a member of the Sudanese community?”
June 15. Toronto Police Service. Fall.
The SIU is investigating the circumstances of a man in crisis falling to his death in the presence of police at a downtown Toronto hotel on the early morning of June 15. They report that Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers were called to the Holiday Inn Express at 111 Lombard St (near Jarvis and Richmond streets) around 3 AM for reports of a person in crisis and items being thrown from a hotel window. The SIU states that upon arrival police noticed a fourth-floor window had been smashed and officers went up and attempted to communicate with a man inside the fourth-floor room. The victim fell shortly after the police started their interaction. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It is reported that the victim was 58 years old.
Again, policing is not about care and is not the appropriate response to someone experiencing distress.
June 25. Ottawa Police. Shooting.
Ottawa police shot and killed a person at the edge of the city’s popular downtown ByWard Market. It is reported that emergency crews responded to a call in the area of St. Patrick Street and Sussex Drive at approximately 2:10 PM and police officers responded to a 911 call regarding a person with a knife. At some point, “During the response one person was shot. The individual was transported to hospital by paramedics,” according to an Ottawa Police Duty Inspector. An Ottawa paramedic spokesperson later told news outlets that an adult suffered a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene.
One witness, Jean Claude Bergeron of Galerie D’art Jean-Claude-Bergeron, told CTV News Ottawa that they heard four gunshots. He saw a person lying in the street who had been shot.
No other information has been released at this time. The SIU has been notified and invoked its mandate. They report initially that two officers discharged their firearms.
The SIU has assigned three investigators and two forensic investigators to examine the case. Two subject officials and two witness officials have been designated.
June 27. RCMP. Sooke, British Columbia.
The IIO is investigating a man’s death during a police deployment in Sooke. They report that, based on information provided by the RCMP, the Sooke RCMP were called to a residence on Kemp Lake Road by a male who appeared to be in emotional distress at around 1:50 PM on June 27. Officers responded to the scene, and the man was later found deceased. The IIO is trying to determine the details of the interaction between the man and police.
June 28. RCMP. Hope, British Columbia. Shooting.
The IIO is investigating the RCMP killing of a man at Fraser Canyon Hospital in Hope on the morning of June 28. They report that the RCMP state that at approximately 11:44 AM, police attended a report of a motor vehicle incident on Highway 5 at the Zopkios offramp. Several people were taken to the local area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. At some point an alleged altercation occurred between two of the injured persons, and police responded.
It is reported that while in the hospital’s Emergency Department, some sort of interaction occurred between one man and the police and an officer discharged their firearm.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
June 30. Vancouver Police. Custody
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC is investigating the death of a man in Vancouver Police Department custody on Jine 30, 2023. The report that about 9:15 PM, a man was arrested near the intersection of Davie and Burrard streets and transported to the police jail. At about 10:10 PM, the man went into medical distress while being booked into a police cell. Emergency Health Services transported the man to a local hospital, and he was subsequently pronounced dead there.
The IIO is investigating to confirm the details of the arrest and the cause of the man’s medical distress and subsequent death.