A timeline of murder and manslaughter cases involving Canadian police
February 2, 2023 By The Canadian Press
Feb. 2, 2023, Canada – Two RCMP officers have been charged with manslaughter in the death of an Indigenous man in Prince George, B.C., while three of their fellow Mounties face attempting to obstruct justice charges.
Below is a list of some other Canadian police officers who have faced murder or manslaughter charges related to deaths while on duty.
August 1979: Albert Johnson, a 35-year-old Jamaican immigrant who has mental-health issues, is shot to death in his Toronto home. Toronto police officers Walter Cargnelli and William Inglis are charged with manslaughter. Both are acquitted.
July 1980: Earle Hollett dies after a confrontation with police on a Nova Scotia bridge linking Halifax and Dartmouth. Constables David Cluett and Harry O’Donnell face second-degree murder charges. Cluett is acquitted, O’Donnell is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison after court hears he hit Hollett repeatedly while Cluett held him.
August 1988: Lester Donaldson is shot and killed by Toronto police Const. David Deviney during a confrontation at Donaldson’s rooming house. Deviney is charged with manslaughter. He is acquitted.
December 1988: Michael Wade Lawson, 17, is shot in the back of the head while in a stolen car west of Toronto. Anthony Melaragni, of Peel Regional Police, is charged with second-degree murder and his colleague, Darren Longpre, is charged with aggravated assault. They are both acquitted.
May 1990: Marlon Neil, 17, is shot in the back twice while sitting in a locked car. Peel Regional Police Const. Brian Rapson is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. He is acquitted.
March 1992: John Rioux dies after Chatham, Ont., police officer Ron Tricker and two other officers wrestle him to his dining room floor after a dispute over a speeding ticket. Tricker is convicted of manslaughter, but later acquitted on appeal.
December 1998: Tony Romagnuolo, 44, is shot to death outside his home north of Toronto during a confrontation with police over the arrest of one of his teenage children. York Region police officer Randy Martin is charged with second-degree murder. He is acquitted.
October 1999: Darren Varley is shot dead in Pincher Creek, Alta., after a scuffle with police in a jail cell following his arrest for drunkenness. After two hung juries, RCMP Const. Michael Ferguson is convicted of manslaughter. Ferguson ultimately serves two months in jail.
August 2000: Otto Vass, 55, dies after an altercation with police outside a Toronto convenience store. The coroner’s office says the medical cause of death was cardiac arrest due to acute mania and excited delirium in a man with bipolar disorder. Toronto police Const. Robert Lemaitre, Const. Phillip Duncan, Const. Nam Le and Const. Filippo Bevilacqua are acquitted of manslaughter in 2003.
September 2010: Eric Osawe, 26, is fatally shot by Toronto police Const. David Cavanagh during a drug and weapon search. Cavanagh is acquitted of second-degree murder after a 2013 trial hears that Osawe struggled with officers as Cavanagh tried to subdue and handcuff him, and Cavanagh’s MP5 submachine-gun went off.
November 2012: Mehrdad Bayrami, 48, is fatally shot by police outside the Starlight Casino in New Westminster, B.C., during a confrontation that begins with an alleged hostage-taking. Delta police Const. Jordan MacWilliams is charged with second-degree murder after an investigation by the province’s police watchdog, but proceedings are dropped in 2015 after the Criminal Justice Branch says the available evidence doesn’t support a viable prosecution.
July 2013: Sammy Yatim, 18, is shot dead by Toronto police officer James Forcillo, who fires two volleys of shots while Yatim is holding a small knife in an empty Toronto streetcar. Forcillo is acquitted in 2016 of second-degree murder related to the first round of shots that killed the teen. However, he is convicted of attempted murder related to the second volley fired while Yatim is lying on his back. Forcillo is also later convicted of perjury. He is sentenced to six and a half years behind bars.
January 2014: A 17-year-old boy is shot to death by police following a short car chase in Ste-Adele, Que. Quebec provincial police officer Eric Deslauriers is undergoing trial on manslaughter charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
January 2015: Michel Vienneau is shot dead in his vehicle outside a Bathurst, N.B., train station by police acting on an erroneous Crime Stoppers tip suggesting the 51-year-old and his wife were smuggling drugs. Const. Patrick Bulger and Const. Mathieu Boudreau of Bathurst city police are initially charged with manslaughter, assault with a weapon and unlawfully pointing a firearm, but a judge rules there is not enough evidence to warrant a trial and dismisses all charges after a preliminary hearing in 2017.
November 2015: Steven Campbell dies after being shot nine times in northern Manitoba, after a police chase in which Campbell’s Jeep is forced off the road, then drives towards RCMP Const. Abram Letkeman. A toxicology report shows Campbell is almost 2 1/2 times over the legal alcohol limit. Letkeman is acquitted of manslaughter in 2019 but convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Manitoba’s Court of Appeal imposes a three-month sentence but stays an order that he spend any time behind bars.
July 2017: Indigenous man Arthur Culver, also known as Dale Culver, dies after a struggle with police in Prince George, B.C. On Feb. 1, 2023, RCMP constables Paul Ste-Marie and Jean Francois Monette are charged with manslaughter, while Sgt. Jon Eusebio Cruz and constables Arthur Dalman and Clarence MacDonald are accused of attempting to obstruct justice.
July 2018: Clayton Crawford dies after being shot 10 times in his pickup truck near Whitecourt, Alta. RCMP Const. Jessica Brown and Cpl. Randy Stenger are found not guilty in December 2022, of manslaughter and aggravated assault.
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