WINNIPEG - Aboriginal leaders in Manitoba want answers after police shot and killed a young native man this week, the second such death within a month.
Matthew Dumas, 18, was fatally injured Monday when police fired two shots during what they called "a scuffle" with officers in Winnipeg. At least one shot hit Dumas, who later died in hospital.
Police say Dumas was a robbery suspect armed with an unspecified weapon.
The dead man's stepfather, Leslie Dumas, wants to know why police were chasing him with their weapons drawn, as witnesses have alleged.
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"They chase somebody down, you know, what are they going to do? Shoot first, ask questions later, you know," he said. "They must be trained to do something better than 'Bang! Ask 'em later.'"
Dumas was the second aboriginal Manitoban to die in a police shooting within a month. An RCMP officer shot and killed Dennis St. Paul in Norway House in early January after trying to arrest him for parole violations.
"The last 24 hours shouldn't have happened in the first place," Nahanni Fontaine of the Manitoba Southern Chiefs' Organization said at a news conference called in the wake of the latest shooting.
"If there was a concerted and honest effort to improve aboriginal and police relations, we wouldn't be here today."
Many aboriginal leaders say the relationship between their community and the police continues to be a fractured one.
They claim police and government officials have not learned from the past - specifically, from J.J. Harper's death at the hands of police in 1988.
The young native leader's shooting triggered the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, which resulted in many recommendations on improving police relations.
Fontaine says not enough of the recommendations have been adopted.
"What needs to happen? The [inquiry] needs to be seriously looked at, implemented and resourced so that we're not here again in six months, a month, a year."
Manitoba's Attorney General, Gord Mackintosh, said most of the recommendations are either being worked on or are completed.
"For example, we're moving ahead, ensuring that aboriginal agencies do probation of aboriginal offenders in Manitoba, that process is underway," he said.
"We've moved to aboriginal child and welfare agencies in Manitoba. Those two examples don't exist anywhere else that I'm aware of in North America."
Manitoba Justice has called an independent inquest into Dumas's death, as required by the Fatality Inquiries Act.
WINNIPEG -- Talk about a painful way to make a point. Calling himself a modern-day warrior, Kevin Arrow protested last Monday's police shooting death of aboriginal teen Matthew Dumas by allowing his friend to pepper spray him in the eyes at point-blank range in City Hall's courtyard.
Arrow, a 28-year-old aboriginal man enrolled at the University of Winnipeg, performed the unusual stunt as a means to argue there was no reason for cops to shoot Dumas after pepper spraying him repeatedly.
"One educated aboriginal on the street can do more damage than 10 aboriginals in jail - OK, hit it!" he told pal Ryan Bruyere, who proceeded to spray him. "Again, man! Do it again!"
Bruyere obeyed. And Arrow was left standing with eyes closed in agony.
"Oh, man -- I can't see. It freakin' burns!" Arrow shouted. "I can't see anything!"
In an effort to prove the officer who confronted Dumas didn't need his firearm, Bruyere then used a wooden staff - simulating a police baton - to throw his friend to the ground a couple of times.
"Aw, my eyes!" he shouted several times. "Aw, that burns, man!"
As Arrow winced in discomfort, Bruyere continued the argument about "unnecessary deaths" of aboriginals at the hands of police.
"In a sense they killed part of our community," Bruyere said of Dumas, whom neither he nor Arrow knew. "That's got to stop."
The ease with which Bruyere controlled Arrow appeared to make a compelling case, but police spokesman Const. Shelly Glover wasn't impressed.
Refusing to comment on the Dumas incident itself, Glover pointed out the pepper spray purchased by Bruyere at a local sporting goods store may not include the same chemical concentration as that used by the city force.
"And pepper spray affects people differently," Glover said.
"There are lots of factors that affect how people react."
WINNIPEG -- An 18-year-old aboriginal man who was shot and killed this week by a Winnipeg police officer investigating a robbery complaint was buried yesterday. Matthew Dumas' funeral was held the same day as a group of aboriginal leaders renewed their cries of racism and police brutality during a prayer vigil in the City Hall courtyard.
"We've been quiet for too long," Roseau River Chief Terry Nelson told dozens of protesters. "Some of our leaders have said cooler heads should prevail. We've said that for too long."
Nelson promised an aboriginal-led inquiry into the fatal shooting of the native teen by an officer who was himself Metis.
Winnipeg's police chief is slated to hold a news conference on the shooting Monday.
WINNIPEG - New information is slowly emerging about a police shooting that killed a Winnipeg teenager Monday afternoon.
The victim has been identified as Matthew Dumas, an 18-year-old aboriginal man.
Police looking for suspects in an Elmwood robbery came upon Dumas in a group of young men around King Street and Dufferin Avenue around 3 p.m. Monday. Officers say Dumas fled from police.
When officers caught up with him, police say Dumas brandished some type of weapon and fought with them. Although police initially said the suspect had a knife, they will now only confirm that he had a weapon.
Police have also revised the number of times they fired at Dumas. On Monday, they said a single shot was fired; they now say it was two. At least one shot hit Dumas, who died later in hospital.
Several witnesses have said police had their pistols out when they were in pursuit of the teen.
"I seen two police officers chasing the kid down," says Stan Guimond, who lives in the neighbourhood. "Whether he had a weapon, I can't see. But I seen the two police officers, they had their guns drawn when they were chasing him."
Parents angry, stunned
Meanwhile, Dumas' family is looking for answers. His stepfather, Leslie Dumas, wants to know why police had to shoot.
"They chase somebody down, you know, what are they going to do? Shoot first, ask question later, you know," he says. "They must be trained to do something better than 'bang! ask 'em later.' There's got to be something better than that."
Dumas' mother, Carol Chartrand, wants to know who her son was with at the time of the encounter with police.
"Why does it seem that Matthew had to get picked out of everybody that was there? There was supposedly an adult there ... maybe I don't even want to know who they are, to tell you the truth," she says.
"Maybe it just ... I hope you guys are feeling just as bad as I am, because now I got no kid. I got no baby boy here no more."
Chartrand says her son had some contact with the law. Court records show Dumas was convicted in October 2004 for possessing a weapon.
Police spokesman Const. Bob Johnson the city's police chief has been in contact with aboriginal groups about the shooting.
"I think the fact that Chief Ewatski has made immediate contact with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, that we will make every effort to ensure that the investigation is done in a fashion that's satisfactory to all the parties involved," says Johnson.
A statement released by the AMC is calling for a change in attitude by the Winnipeg police, and questions the correctness of the details that have been released by police.
The homicide unit is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure in all shootings involving police officers. The officers involved in the shooting have been put on leave and are receiving counselling, which is also mandatory.
University of Winnipeg criminologist Doug Skoog says the investigation is critical for relations between police and the community.
"The biggest stumbling block for the police is that they're always criticized - at least by certain segments of the population - when a citizen is killed," says Skoog. "So, I think that they must be careful, prudent and attempt to show the public that they [can] have confidence in the Winnipeg Police Service."
Provincial officials say a judicially led public inquest into the death will be held, as required by the province's Fatality Inquiries Act. The inquest will be co-ordinated by an independent Crown attorney.
The Law Enforcement Review Agency is also available to review the incident if complaints are made about the way the officers conducted themselves. Provincial officials say they will also consider a further independent review if issues remain after other reviews are held.