‘From Crisis to Catastrophe’: Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice

Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque was charged yesterday with breach of trust and obstructing justice. The charges come as the Office of the Independent Police Review Directorate, is examining the police force for “systematic racism” in its handling of cases of murdered and missing indigenous people after complaints by First Nations leaders.

Falconers LLP lawyer, Julian Falconer, who represents the DeBungee family, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Chief James Leonard of Rainy River First Nations in the review, told the Star Tuesday that Levesque is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but charges aside, Indigenous communities’ confidence in Thunder Bay police has turned into an “an utter catastrophe.”

“All I hear from my clients is the concern that there is no investigative agency in the city of Thunder Bay that they can trust to competently investigate the deaths at the rivers because of the trail of calamities and failures by the Thunder Bay police, and this is quite apart from this current revelation,” Falconer said. “So as I say, if there was a crisis before, there’s now a full catastrophe as there’s simply no credibility for indigenous communities in relation to policing in Thunder Bay.”

Falconer was also critical of the media release by Thunder Bay Police Services Board concerning the charges against Levesque – in particular, the Board stating it would not be offering further comment.

“There’s tremendous irony to that since the Thunder Bay Police Services Board has been conspicuous, utterly conspicuous, by their failure to make any public comment, period, in relation to the systemic review,” he said. “There’s true irony that they would announce today that they will still do exactly what they’ve been doing all along – show an utter lack of leadership.”

Julian Falconer In front of the Thunder Bay Courthouse

In the News

Thunder Bay police chief charged with breach of trust   Toronto Star, May 23, 2017

Mayor, chief call for united action to protect Indigenous kids in Thunder Bay, Ont.   CBC, May 24, 2017

Thunder Bay police chief charged in connection with disclosing “confidential” info about city mayor    APTN News, May 24, 2017

Thunder Bay police chief placed on administrative suspension   CBC, May 26, 2017

Related Links

DeBungee / Rainy River First Nations Complaints Lead To Systemic Racism Investigation of Thunder Bay Police Service

OIPRD Announces Unprecedented Investigation Into Systemic Racism at Thunder Bay Police Service

Related News

Police watchdog review to include two recent cases of Indigenous youth   The Turtle Island News, May 23, 2017

Thunder Bay review of police practices with Indigenous people to include two recent cases   Toronto Star, May 22, 2017

Probe of Thunder Bay police now includes Keeash   Chronicle Journal, May 22, 2017

Ontario watchdog expands probe of Thunder Bay police   Toronto Star, May 20, 2017

OIPRD Expanding Investigation of Thunder Bay Police Service   NetNewsLedger, May 20, 2017

Statement on Josiah Begg   NAN, May 19, 2017

Leaders Frustrated with Investigations into Tammy Keeash death, Josiah Begg Disapperance   NAN, May 17, 2017

First Nation’s family rejects Thunder Bay Police explanation for teen’s death   Toronto Star, May 17, 2017

Thunder Bay police under fire over handling of death and missing First Nations youth   National News, May 17, 2017

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