Police watchdog recommends reopening nine Indigenous sudden death investigations in Thunder Bay after review

Police in Thunder Bay failed to properly investigate at least nine sudden death investigations of Indigenous people in the city, a long-awaited report has found.

In its report, released Wednesday, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) called the Thunder Bay Police Service’s (TBPS) investigations into a number of sudden deaths in the city “inadequate” and “so problematic that at least nine of these cases should be reinvestigated.”

In his report, titled Broken Trust, Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police, Gerry McNeilly reviewed 37 Thunder Bay police investigations, most of them missing persons and homicides, and mostly involving Indigenous victims.

The independent director found “significant deficiencies” in how TBPS records or maintains 11 investigation files.

“A number of TBPS investigators involved in these investigations lacked the expertise and experience to conduct sudden death or homicide investigations,” McNeilly said about his findings.

McNeilly called the relationship between Indigenous people and Thunder Bay police “nothing short of a crisis.”


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