Shamattawa man shot by RCMP fights for life
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A 22-year-old man from Shamattawa First Nation is in critical condition in a Winnipeg hospital after being shot by RCMP over the weekend, sources say.
In a news release, RCMP indicated officers in the Shamattawa detachment responded to a report of a male walking on a road with a firearm around 1 p.m. Saturday.
Officers, who reportedly heard several gunshots, located a suspect outside a residence and returned fire after the suspect shot at them, RCMP said.
The man sustained serious injuries and was initially taken to the community’s nursing station before he was flown to Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre — approximately 750 kilometres south — for treatment.
The officers were not injured.
“When a shooting involves RCMP, it’s very shocking and traumatizing,” said Sandy Miles, a band councillor and relative of the 22-year-old man.
“I think it’s time that the leadership, even the whole community should sit down with RCMP and have a good dialogue, and make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
The police are continuing their investigation.
Manitoba’s Independent Investigation Unit, which is mandated to look into serious incidents involving both on- and off-duty officers, is also conducting its own probe. Members of the police oversight agency visited the community and interviewed witnesses Sunday.
The man who was shot was preparing for a fishing trip with one of his friends on Saturday afternoon and had both a fishing rod and gun on hand, Miles said.
“Whenever we go on a fishing trip, I do that too. I take my fishing gear. I take my rifle and sometimes, I take my shotgun, thinking that I might see ducks or moose or caribou,” the councillor said.
Sources told the Free Press the 22-year-old’s condition worsened over the weekend and close family members have been flown to Winnipeg to be by his side.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. issued a statement on the situation Monday.
“I am aware there are extenuating circumstances that led to this incident, but it is alarming when you hear that an Indigenous man is shot 11 times. It is disconcerting, and being cognizant of the many shootings of Indigenous people as of late, I cannot help but be uncertain of the path forward on reconciliation,” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in the release.
Shamattawa Chief Jordna Hill has requested the RCMP undertake a review of its operational policies and remove the officers involved in the incident until an investigation is complete as a matter of safety on both sides.
“I further call for a change in the policy of ‘trigger happy’ shoot first and ask questions later… These incidents are becoming too common,” Hill added in a prepared statement.
The Shamattawa officers have already been relocated per normal procedures, said RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Julie Courchaine.
Officers involved in shootings are typically removed from front-line policing for their health and well-being, Courchaine said, adding that employees who work in small communities may be moved to larger centres — as was the case in this situation — where RCMP supports are more readily accessible.
A video of the aftermath of the shooting has been making the rounds on social media. In the clip, community members press officers about why they shot the man. There is wailing and screaming amid other background noise.
Witnesses and other individuals who have information or video footage of the incident are asked to contact the IIU toll-free at 1-844-667-6060.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.