Judge halts closed hearing in Thunder Bay police disciplinary process around Stacy DeBungee's death

An Ontario Superior Court judge says the process to decide whether three Thunder Bay police officers will face a disciplinary hearing should be transparent amid accusations of racism in their investigation of the death of a Rainy River First Nations man.

On Thursday, Justice Helen Pierce granted a stay requested by CBC and the family and community of Stacy DeBungee to stop a meeting convened by a retired judge acting on behalf of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board from proceeding, because it was going to be closed to the public. Instead, his decision to hold it in private will be reviewed in court in December.

"In my view, on the facts of this case, it is important for the court to consider the extent to which the public can expect openness in administrative decision-making," Pierce wrote in her decision. "Because of the complaint underlying this process — that policing practices related to Indigenous citizens in Thunder Bay are racist — it is even more critical that every step in the complaint procedure be dealt with transparently."

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