Police consider new charges in beating death of disabled man

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City police say they’re looking at whether charges against two accused will be upgraded in the case of a disabled man who died today after being beaten last week.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/08/2011 (4202 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City police say they’re looking at whether charges against two accused will be upgraded in the case of a disabled man who died today after being beaten last week.

An autopsy is being conducted on Harvey Sanderson Jr. to determine the cause of death. The 27-year-old, who had brittle bone disease and diabetes, was beaten at his Kennedy Street apartment last Friday.

“Given the nature of the condition of the victim in this case, it’s something that has be looked at very carefully in consultation with the Crown’s office,” said Const. Rob Carver, spokesman for the Winnipeg Police Service.

Harvey Sanderson Jr. died from his injuries. He was beaten last Friday and he wasn't discovered until hours later when a home-care worker went to his downtown apartment. Two people have been charged.

Investigators were still speaking with medical staff, Carver said.

Sanderson was left to languish in his apartment for hours before being discovered Saturday morning by a health-care worker.

Police arrested Bobbi Melissa McKay and John Raven Ward, both 27, hours after the incident and charged them with robbery and aggravated assault.

McKay was also charged for two court breaches, while Ward was charged with being unlawfully at large due to a warrant out for his arrest.

Police said one of the two suspects lives at the Kennedy Street apartment block and officers arrested the pair in the same building Saturday at about 4 p.m.

Carver said the pair is accused of stealing minor items from the victim.

Sanderson’s parents, who are from northern Manitoba, rushed to Winnipeg after the beating.

The attack on a virtually defenceless person has many people wondering what could have prompted it.

“In fact, I’ve had emails from members of the disability community. The news is going around quickly,” said Jim Derksen, a policy adviser with the Winnipeg-based Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

Police won’t say whether Sanderson was ever able to talk with investigators.

“It’s in the middle of what may be a homicide investigation, and that’s the kind of information that’s critical, and I’m just not in a position to be able to release it at this very early stage,” Carver said.

Such attacks are not unprecedented in Winnipeg. In 2008, Ronald Lacey, 49, was found dead in the Red River. His wheelchair and van were found nearby. Police said he had been assaulted.

Derksen, who uses a wheelchair himself, knows others in the same position who have been robbed or attacked. He stressed that the disabled don’t necessarily suffer a higher rate of crime than the general public. But suggested more accessible housing options are needed — places that are both affordable and in good neighbourhoods. Sanderson’s apartment was in a low-income area in downtown Winnipeg.

“The underlying problem is that people with disabilities are often low-income,” he said. “Most of the newer (accessible homes) are pretty pricey and they’re in new developments.”

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 9:44 AM CDT: Adds death of Sanderson

Updated on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 3:17 PM CDT: Adds police comment, details.

Updated on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 3:24 PM CDT: Adds comments from activist.

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