An investigation by Manitoba’s police watchdog into the death of a teenager killed by a Winnipeg police officer last April has concluded with no charges against the officer.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba released a report Thursday on its investigation into the April 8, 2020, death of 16-year-old Eishia Hudson. The Indigenous teen was shot and killed following a pursuit in which police say she drove a vehicle that had been involved in a liquor store robbery in Sage Creek that day.
“This incident is a tragedy, magnified by the loss of a young life,” IIU civilian director Zane Tessler said during a news conference announcing the findings of the report.
During its investigation, the IIU talked with 14 civilian witnesses — including three of the four passengers in the vehicle driven by Hudson, in addition to reviewing forensic evidence, and audio recordings of a 911 call and Winnipeg police radio transmissions.
The IIU also talked with several witness police officers. The officer directly involved in the shooting declined to be interviewed, but provided notes and a prepared statement, the IIU said.
The report includes an account from a witness who recorded cellphone video of part of the incident at the intersection of Lagimodiere Boulevard and Fermor Avenue.
WATCH | Witness video of the April 8, 2020 incident:
He described seeing a vehicle, which was being pursued by police, hit another vehicle. Then, as the first vehicle — which was surrounded by police officers — tried to reverse, he heard the sound of gunshots, according to the IIU report.
One bullet hit Hudson, killing her.
The shooting — the first of three fatal encounters involving Indigenous people and Winnipeg police within a span of less than two weeks last spring — sparked rallies, vigils and calls for justice.
The Independent Investigation Unit — which is mandated to investigate all serious incidents involving Manitoba police — launched an investigation.
Tessler said he was satisfied that “no stone was left unturned,” and he hoped that releasing the full report will mean the public can have confidence in the investigation.
“In the end, I think what’s critical is that all factors have been presented to the public for their consideration,” he said.
“I can understand that there is upset by many, but the facts are what drives any investigation.”
The IIU report says it had referred the case to Manitoba Prosecution Services, which recommended that no charges should be laid.
An excerpt of the 45-page report prepared by the prosecution service was included in the IIU report.
“We have concluded that there is no evidence that [the officer] acted outside of the scope of … the Criminal Code [section] that governs the use of force by police officers,” the prosecution service wrote, according to the report.
Tessler said he invited members of Hudson’s family to meet with him before the report was released, but they declined.
Indigenous leaders, including Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, met with Tessler to discuss the report, Tessler said.
“The issues that were of concern to Chief Daniels are issues that still exists regardless of this report. I’m hopeful that people will give due consideration to the efforts undertaken by the IIU investigators in accumulating all of the evidence … and to the efforts undertaken by prosecutions in reviewing this manner.”
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