Blue Line

Nunavik police cleared in 2021 incident in which teen died

January 24, 2023  By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Jan. 23, 2023, Nunavik, Que. – Nunavik Police Service will not face charges after prosecutors cleared it of criminal wrongdoing in a 2021 incident in Aupaluk during which a teenage girl died.

Quebec’s director of criminal prosecutions announced Wednesday that no charges would be laid, its decision coming nearly a year and a half after the incident.

On Sept. 4, 2021, Quebec’s Bureau of Independent Investigations, announced it was looking into an incident that occurred in Aupaluk the night before. The bureau – or Bureau des enquetes independantes in French – probes police-involved deaths and serious injuries in the province.

According to a news release at the time, published only in French, Nunavik police and Quebec provincial police responded to a noise complaint at about 11 p.m. on Sept. 3.

When an officer arrived at the scene, where four or five all-terrain vehicles were gathered, the people on ATVs fled, and the officer followed some of them.

While police followed from a “distance” and with the lights of the police vehicle flashing, two of the ATVs collided, the release indicated.

One of the passengers, a 14-year-old girl, was seriously injured and later died. The driver of the ATV was also seriously injured.

Aupaluk is Nunavik’s smallest village, with a population of approximately 230 people.

Three months after the incident occurred, the bureau announced it had transferred its investigation report to the province’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions on Dec. 20, 2021.

As with all bureau investigations, the director of criminal and penal prosecutions decides whether charges are warranted.

The director’s office announced Wednesday that no charges would be laid, its decision coming nearly a year and a half after the incident occurred.

In a French news release, it indicated that, after reviewing the bureau’s report, “analysis of the evidence does not reveal the commission of a criminal offence by police officers from the Kativik Regional Police Force and the Surete du Quebec.”

Usually, following a decision by prosecutors, the bureau’s incident report is made public. But in this case Montreal police are conducting a “parallel” investigation into civilians involved in the incident and the report wasn’t released.

“Since the file relating to the parallel investigation conducted by the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal in this case is still under study and since charges could be brought against a person involved during the intervention, the DPCP will not comment further,” Wednesday’s news release read.

“When a verdict is rendered by the court or if the decision not to bring charges is made by the DPCP, a press release will be issued summarizing the facts of this event and explaining the reasons supporting the decision of the DPCP.”

Since September 2021, the Bureau of Independent Investigations has opened five new files involving police in other communities in Nunavik, unrelated to the Aupaluk incident.

Four of the files are closed and the findings are in the hands of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, while one remains open under bureau investigation.

– Nunatsiaq News

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