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Bad cops in Saskatoon Police

Stonechild case closed: RCMP refuses to add 1990 Native death to its investigation of suspicious deaths

RCMP Crest

The RCMP has decided not to reopen a decade-old investigation into the suspicious freezing death of a Native teenager on the outskirts of Saskatoon, despite pleas from Native leaders and the boy's family.

"Right now, we have five things to deal with and sometime we have to decide where to maintain our focus," said RCMP Sgt. Rick Wychreschuk. "We want to deal with these issues first. That's the decision right now."

Neil Stonechild, 17, was last seen Nov. 24, 1990 and his frozen body was found five days later in a field in Saskatoon's north end. The last person to see Stonechild alive on the -28 C night has claimed that police apprehended Stonechild and took him away.

The decision by the RCMP to ignore the Stonechild case for now was met with sadness from the boy's mother and anger from a Native leader.

Lawrence Joseph

Lawrence Joseph, vice-chief in charge of justice issues at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said the Stonechild case is one of the "more glaring leads" in the growing investigation surrounding Saskatoon city police.

"The RCMP shouldn't have to be pushed. These people have lost a family member. They have heart-wrenching questions and someone needs to put the wheels in motion to answer them," he said.

"If they're going to treat this cry for an investigation of the death of Mr. Stonechild this way, it's unacceptable. It's not enough to say their plate is too full."

Many circumstances surrounding Stonechild's death are similar to the mysterious deaths of two Native men earlier this year, which are being investigated by a special RCMP task force.

Like the other men, Neil Stonechild was intoxicated and causing a disturbance in the city the night he disappeared. Like the two other men, his body was found in a field on the edge of the city.

The Starlight Tour

The RCMP is investigating the two recent deaths, as well as an alleged incident where a Native man says he was dropped off at the edge of town by Saskatoon police and forced to attempt to walk home in frigid weather. Chief of police Dave Scott suspended two officers for their alleged involvement in that incident.

Stella Bignell, Stonechild's mother, has always believed her son was the victim of foul play. She now believes the police had something to do with it and she's angry the RCMP is ignoring the case.

"They don't want to have anything to do with it. You'd think after all the information that has come up, they would have the decency to look into it again. They certainly didn't do anything about it before," Bignell said.

She said she has contacted Saskatoon lawyer Don Worme and she will wait for his advice before acting.

The RCMP has also assumed from Saskatoon city police investigations into the deaths of the two other Native men. In January and February, respectively, those men had contact with police, were released and were later found dead at or near their homes.

Wychreschuk said the RCMP took over those cases after the request of the deceased's family in one case, and the Saskatoon city police in the other.

The Saskatoon police are reviewing the Stonechild file, along with all other deaths the force has attended over the past five years.

"Any that we feel should go to the RCMP will go to the RCMP following that review. The Stonechild one will fall into that category," said Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson.

Saskatoon police concluded in 1991 that Stonechild died while trying to walk to the correctional centre from a convenience store to surrender himself. He was wanted for escaping from a youth group home where he was serving a sentence for break and enter.

Joseph, Bignell and Worme each questioned the wisdom of leaving the file in the hands of city police Tuesday.

"But I'm sure the truth will come out eventually," Bignell said. "I have my faith in that. I will find out whoever did this." 2001 update on the Neil Stonechild case


Police department racist: worker: Metis woman complains to human rights commission about employer's 'poisoned' work environment

Saskatoon Police crest

A Metis employee of the Saskatoon Police Service has filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, alleging the racist attitudes of her co-workers poisoned her work environment and amounted to discrimination.

Charlene Lavallee, a special constable now on stress leave, also claims police Chief Dave Scott told her she shouldn't be involved in the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan (MNS), the province's most important Metis political organization.

Lavallee filed a complaint with the commission before the police service revealed that two senior officers were suspended after a First Nations man complained he was driven to a location near the Queen Elizabeth power station and abandoned.

An RCMP task force is investigating the incident and the recent suspicious deaths of four First Nations men. The controversy has given rise to allegations the police force is racist.

Lavallee attended a news conference Tuesday where Metis leaders called for an independent public inquiry into the provincial justice system. Her complaint is being investigated by the commission and she will meet with Scott this week to discuss her concerns. The police service had no comment on the case Tuesday.

"She has been an employee there for 6½ years and she saw first-hand the racism exhibited by the police force," Dwayne Roth, a Saskatoon lawyer representing Lavallee, told reporters.

In the complaint, dated Jan. 5, Lavallee claims she was subjected to derogatory remarks about Native people made by co-workers and a supervisor.

In one case, a sergeant said Natives don't work and couldn't survive without handouts. Lavallee said she told the officer she didn't appreciate the comments.

On another occasion, she claims a constable expressed a sharp opinion about a study on residential schools.

"One of his comments was 'I'm sick and tired of paying for the damned Indians for stuff that happened to them hundreds of years ago,' " reads the complaint.

"Both men knew I was a person of aboriginal ancestry. These comments were typical of others I was subjected to."

Lavallee claims she was told by Scott in 1997 that she should not be involved with the MNS because it would interfere with her work. Lavallee was vice-president of MNS Local 126 in Saskatoon and had just attended the MNS annual general assembly.

According to the complaint, Lavallee believes she is working in a poisoned work environment.

"As such, the Saskatoon board of police commissioners have discriminated against me in the terms and conditions of my employment because of my race and ancestry," the complaint reads.

Roth said Lavallee will sue the police service if her complaints aren't addressed.

"The basis of it would be constructive dismissal. If she is forced to leave her employment because of poor working conditions, we would be alleging constructive dismissal. But it's really early yet to make that determination."


Decade-old death resurfaces

Neil Stonechild

It was a -28 C November night in 1990 when a drunk, Native 17-year-old named Neil Stonechild (right) created a ruckus at an apartment building and then disappeared.

Five days later, Stonechild turned up frozen solid on the northern edge of the city. A victim, it seemed, of drunken meandering on a frigid night.

His mother suspected foul play immediately.

"Why was he found way up in the north industrial area with only one shoe?" Stella Bignell asked three months after her son's death. "What kid goes out with only one shoe?"

Bignell's doubts were fuelled last week by allegations that some Saskatoon police officers may be dumping troublemakers outside of town in cold weather. The RCMP is investigating the allegations of one man, and the exposure deaths of at least two others.

"I thought right away of my son. I always knew there was something wrong with this," Bignell said recently from her home in Cross Lake, Man.

"I always believed the police were there for me. I just can't understand this."

Her suspicions had been confirmed long ago by Stonechild's 16-year-old friend and drinking partner on that cold night. The friend was the last known person to see Neil Stonechild alive.

The friend has always maintained he watched the cops drive away with Stonechild in the back of a Saskatoon city police patrol car.

As the car drove away, the friend says Stonechild was screaming, "They're gonna kill me."

Weeks later police concluded Stonechild died trying to walk across the city to turn himself in at the correctional centre. He attempted this, they said, in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, while drunk, in -28 weather, wearing sneakers, a jean jacket and a lumberjack coat.

For 10 years the friend, a young man with his own lengthy criminal record, has consistently repeated his account of the incident to friends, to family and to a youth detention staffer who worked with him 10 years ago.

The friend repeated the story again in an interview Monday. His hands shook, his eyes watered and he was visibly terrified during the interview. He asked not to be identified because he is afraid of the police.

Neil Stonechild and the friend were both young men in trouble with the law on Nov. 23, 1990 when they went out drinking.

Convicted of break and enter earlier that year, Stonechild was supposed to be in a group home for young offenders. He had walked away earlier in the week and a warrant was out for his arrest.

Just after midnight on the 24th, Stonechild and his buddy went to an apartment building on 33rd Street West and Confederation Drive where their friend, Lucille Horse, was babysitting.

The pair weren't sure where to find Horse, so they knocked on doors and rang dozens of buzzers in the building, annoying a host of neighbours.

Horse didn't let her friends into the apartment because she was babysitting and they were drunk, especially Neil.

"I still have some regrets about that to this day," Horse said. She later learned that someone in the building called police.

The friend was cold and tired and he tried to convince Stonechild to give up the hunt. Stonechild refused, so the friend headed in the opposite direction toward a drinking buddy's home.

A few minutes later while the friend was walking south along Diefenbaker Drive, he says two police officers drove up to him from an alley. The officers asked for his name and they asked if he knew the young man sitting in the back of the car. The young man in custody was Neil Stonechild.

The friend says he gave a false name to police and denied he knew Stonechild, who was swearing and bleeding in the back seat. The friend says he lied because he was wanted by police at the time and he already had a lengthy criminal record.

"Neil was screaming my name, telling me to help him. Seeing him sitting in the car like that, I was in no position to want to get in that car with him. So I lied," he said.

"I know it was him. I couldn't be more positive. He was screaming my name. It couldn't have been anyone else."

As the car drove away, the friend says Stonechild swore and screamed: "They're gonna kill me, they're gonna kill me."

Five days later, on Nov. 29, 1990, Stonechild's frozen body was found in a field in Saskatoon's north industrial area, near the 800 block of 57th Street. He'd somehow lost a shoe. An autopsy confirmed he died from hypothermia. His body showed no signs of a struggle, except for several "scratches" across his nose, police said.

When the body was first found and before it was identified, police said the young man was 30 to 35 years old.

Early in 1991 police concluded Stonechild probably died trying to walk to the correctional centre to surrender himself.

The police noted that the young man was extremely drunk and was last seen just after midnight at a convenience store at 33rd Street and Confederation Drive, contrary to the account of the friend.

Stella Bignell wondered back in 1990 about her son's death. She always suspected foul play, although initially she thought a gang may have killed her son. Then she heard from the friend.

Bignell, Lucille Horse, and another son Jason Stonechild, each recently confirm the friend has been steadfast in his account on various occasions since 1990.

The friend says he spoke to police twice about his allegations. He says a police officer took a statement from him shortly after Stonechild's funeral. He also says he approached homicide investigators several months later. He never heard from the police again about the incident.

Saskatoon police could not confirm or deny the claim Monday.

The friend also says he told his account to a staff member at Kilburn Hall in 1991. The staff member confirmed that assertion Monday.

The friend has now hired Saskatoon lawyer Don Worme for advice on what to do next.

Bignell wondered whether her son's death would have been more completely investigated had her son been a white person, or the son of the mayor or a police commissioner.

Police Chief Dave Scott, then a sergeant in the police force in 1991, insisted then that the case was investigated thoroughly but no evidence of foul play was found in Stonechild's death.

"A tremendous amount of work went into that case," Scott said in 1991. At the time he had on hand a thick investigative file. "It was an unfortunate incident."

The RCMP has assumed the investigation of two recent freezing deaths of Native men on the outskirts of Saskatoon.

The RCMP is also probing allegations that police dropped another Native man outside of town in freezing weather. Two officers have been suspended from the force in that case.

The StarPhoenix reported last week an allegation from a Native man who says he was picked up by police while drunk and dumped northwest of town about a month before Stonechild's death. That man walked back to the city.

RCMP Sgt. Rick Wychreschuk says the RCMP task force is not currently looking into the Stonechild case.

City police Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson says the Stonechild file will be reviewed and may be forwarded to the RCMP task force, as well.

"We're aware of it, we're looking at it, and we'll have to see what we do with it. If the file is turned over, any information will have to come from the RCMP."


RCMP seek help finding man last seen with Naistus

RCMP are asking for the public's assistance in locating a man who may have information that could aid their investigation into the death of one of four aboriginal men in Saskatoon over the past month.

RCMP are trying to locate a man, known only as Pat, who is said to have been with Rodney Naistus the last time he was seen alive on Jan. 28.

Naistus' frozen body was discovered Jan. 29 south of the Queen Elizabeth II Power Station on the outskirts of the city. Police said he died from exposure.

Naistus' family members say he left the Red Rock Bar and Grill with a new acquaintance whose name was Pat. RCMP hope that man can help them retrace Naistus' movements on his last day alive, said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Rick Wychreschuk.

Pat is white, clean-shaven, clean-cut and of average build. He is about 5-feet-8 to 5-feet-11 and he frequented the Red Rock between Jan. 1 and Jan. 28. He is said to have been working temporarily as a bricklayer or construction worker and spoke of beginning work in Calgary in February.

He is said to have lived with his mother in the neighbourhood of the Red Rock on 22nd Street West.

Anyone with information about Pat is asked to contact the RCMP at 1-800-868-7030.

Naistus' death and those of Lawrence Wegner, Lloyd Joseph Dustyhorn, and Darcy Dean Ironchild are being investigated by an RCMP task force.

The task force was established after another aboriginal man, Darrell Night, was taken to a field near the power plant by uniformed police officers and abandoned in freezing weather.

Two senior officers, Ken Munson and Daniel Hatchen, have been suspended for 30 days with pay in connection with that incident.


Axworthy refuses to call public inquiry

Lawrence Wegner

The provincial government will wait until the RCMP completes its criminal investigation into the deaths of Lawrence Wegner (right) and Rodney Naistus and allegations of police abuse by Darrell Night before deciding whether a public inquiry is warranted, Justice Minister Chris Axworthy said Monday.

"Any kind of inquiry is likely to make it very difficult to have a criminal proceeding which would be regarded as fair and might hold up in court," he said.

"Our view is that it's better to await the investigation and then make a decision about an inquiry sometime after. I can say that I'm not ruling out any options in the future."

This is not good enough for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), which says Axworthy "is missing a golden opportunity to restore faith in the justice system." Vice-chief Lawrence Joseph said the province should be putting the inquiry in motion right now.

"Start meeting with us, talking to us, putting together the terms of reference, who is going to be on the commission. Just to commit to it, that's all we're asking," he said.

"The issue is national, the issue is hot. The pressure from our public is overwhelming and I think it's a life and death situation."

Axworthy did not believe an inquiry into general relations between the aboriginal community and the justice system could be done while the 16 investigators are looking into the Saskatoon matters.

"I think it's very difficult to see a way in which those two things could be effectively separated," he said.

Darrell Night

Darrell Night (right) alleges that two city police officers drove him to a field between the city landfill and the Queen Elizabeth power station in the early morning hours of Jan. 28. He said the officers abandoned him at the site and that he walked to the power station and called a taxi.

Power station manager Terry Scott confirmed Monday that, "Yes, he was here and, yes, the call to the cab did go from here."

Two senior constables were suspended in connection with the incident. They are the subject of an internal investigation by Saskatoon police and a criminal investigation by the RCMP.

RCMP are also investigating the deaths of Rodney Naistus, 25, and 30-year-old Lawrence Wegner.

Naistus was last seen on the evening of Jan. 28. His frozen body was found at 11 a.m. on Jan. 29 in the Holiday Park industrial area, north of the power station.

Wegner was last seen on the evening of Jan. 30 near St. Paul's Hospital. One woman called 911 saying he was causing a disturbance, and another man said he witnessed two officers forcing an agitated Wegner into a cruiser near midnight.

Wegner's frozen body was found in a field near the Queen Elizabeth station on Feb. 3.

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners intends to launch its own inquiry after the RCMP finish the criminal investigation, chair Henry Dayday said.

The board, along with Chief Dave Scott, approached the Saskatoon Tribal Council about helping select a person to conduct the inquiry and establish the terms of reference. On Monday, Dayday said the inquiry could "deal with the more general issues."

"Public confidence, the way we manage our department - but it can't deal specifically with police officers or criminal investigations, nothing like that."

The RCMP will forward the results of its criminal investigation to the director of public prosecutions in Regina. That office will determine whether there are sufficient grounds for charges.

Axworthy said he would have to consider the location of the allegations and the substance before deciding on a public inquiry.

"If we hear more allegations from other parts of the province, obviously the pressure builds," he said.

"I think we have three issues at hand. One is these criminal investigations; one is whatever else the RCMP might discover; thirdly, how do we, in the face of this, continue to build a strong working relationship between the aboriginal community and the justice system, and move to make the system better than it is?

"That should be our primary focus. Plainly, while these allegations are being investigated, there is a lot of pain and anguish in the community."

The RCMP task force is now in Saskatoon and working out of offices at the Sandman Hotel near the airport.

Sgt. Rick Wychreschuk said the funding for the task force, now the largest in Saskatchewan history, is coming out of the regular budget.

"We'll pay for it, unless there are cost overruns or it gets into horrendous amounts," he said.

The province contributes 70 per cent and the federal government 30 per cent to the RCMP budget in Saskatchewan.

Axworthy said the investigation could reach the point where the province considers contributing directly.

"The question does arise as to whether or not it goes beyond normal policing procedures, and whether the province should fund any extra costs," he said.


Witness recalls Native man struggling with police: Man who sparked internal probe tells horror story

A 65-year-old man says he watched two uniformed police officers force an agitated male matching Lawrence Wegner's description into a cruiser in front of St. Paul's Hospital near midnight on Jan. 30.

Wegner was last seen by his roommates on that evening, and he failed to attend classes at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College the following week. Workers at the Queen Elizabeth II Power Station discovered Wegner's frozen body in a stubble field near the plant on the southern edge of the city on Feb. 3. He was discovered clothed in jeans, a T-shirt and socks.

Earlier that Jan. 30 evening, a woman on 20th Street near St. Paul's Hospital called 911 to report a man in a T-shirt, jeans and socks pounding on her door. She was told that police were already responding to a complaint about the same man. She said the man fled toward the hospital.

Albert Chatsis is a Canadian Forces artillery veteran who lives in a Confederation Drive apartment. For the past two years he has driven across the city to walk at Diefenbaker Park as part of therapy for a double knee replacement. He says he prefers walking in the park at night because he is busy during the day with art and writing classes, and the walks leave him fatigued.

On Sunday, Jan. 30, Chatsis says he was driving east along 20th Street near midnight when he noticed a police cruiser pulled alongside the curb in front of St. Paul's Hospital. A man wearing a T-shirt and jeans "was talking, pointing his finger and wobbling.

"I thought he had taken off his jacket to fight the two officers."

The officers were in the cruiser with their windows rolled down, apparently talking to the man.

"I slowed down as I passed - I'm a curious guy, and I thought there was going to be a fight."

As he rolled by and approached the red light at Avenue P and 20th Street, he saw the passenger side door open on the cruiser, "and I thought the fight was starting.

"Instead, the officer opened the back door, grabbed the man by the head and shoved him in the car."

Chatsis thought little of the incident until he saw Wegner's photograph in The StarPhoenix on Wednesday.

"I knew I had seen this man before," he said.

"Then it came back, clearly. I remembered his glasses reflecting in the lights, and his moustache."

A team of 14 RCMP investigators are now moving into Saskatoon to take over the investigation into the deaths of Wegner and Rodney Naistus, and allegations by Darrell Night that two city police officers drove him outside the city to the Queen Elizabeth plant, removed him from a cruiser and told him to walk back into the city.

Sources said Thursday Daniel Hatchen and Ken Munson are the two officers.

Night says that he was forced out in the same area where the bodies of Wegner and Naistus were discovered.

It now appears from witnesses and interviews that the events under investigation took place in a 72-hour span, from Jan. 28 to 30. Two senior police constables were suspended as a result of Night's allegations.

The investigation is not limited to these officers alone, however, because at least two different platoons worked the period in question.

In an interview conducted through an uncle on Thursday, Night described his allegations in detail and provided corroborating evidence that at least partially supported his story.

Night says he was arrested outside an apartment block on the 2000 block of 20th Street West, handcuffed and placed in a police cruiser in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 28. There had been an altercation inside the apartment and, when he went outside, he was met by police.

"He doesn't know why. Somebody must have called them, they were there," the uncle said.

Night, intoxicated, believed the two officers intended to take him to the drunk tank. Instead, they followed 20th Street to Avenue H and then veered toward the landfill and the power station.

"He's staying quiet because he doesn't know where he's going, staying quiet as a mouse. They're taking him out of town, what is he supposed to think?" the uncle said.

Night said the officers stopped about 100 metres past the power station. They opened the rear door, grabbed his coat and dragged him out to the rear of the car and forced him against the trunk while they removed the handcuffs. It's at this point he glimpsed the cruiser number.

As the officers removed the handcuffs, Night said they swore and said, "Get the f-- out of here, you f--ing Indian," re-entered the car and proceeded to drive away.

Night yelled "I'm going to freeze out here," and then the officers stopped, rolled down the window and yelled back, "That's your f--ing problem."

Night said the officers did not take away his lined denim jacket, as previously reported. He was wearing the coat, a shirt and summer shoes, and had no gloves or hat. Cold and disoriented, he began walking to the Queen Elizabeth station. After banging on the door, he said a night watchman answered and let him in.

Management at the station did not return calls Thursday.

After telling the night watchman what happened, Night called a United Blueline taxi and took the ride to his sister's house.

Independent sources confirmed a United driver picked up a fare at the power station early in the morning on Jan. 28. The passenger was wearing a jean jacket, jeans and a shirt and was taken to a west-side address.

Night came forward with the story when driving with the uncle and nephew on Feb. 3, the day Wegner's body was found. They were stopped because the nephew was not wearing a seatbelt. As the officer wrote out the ticket, the uncle inquired about whether police had yet identified the man found near the power station that day.

"He said no, and asked us why. I said my nephew was taken out to the same spot, I told him the date and everything. He asked why we didn't make a complaint and I said, `Who's going to believe us?' "

Night filed a complaint the next day. In the wake of Night's allegations on Feb. 4, Chief Dave Scott immediately ordered an internal investigation that led to the suspension of the senior constables. The officers gave full statements on Monday, Feb. 7, and agreed to take polygraph tests.

At the same time, Scott ordered major crimes officers to investigate the circumstances around the deaths of Wegner and Naistus to determine whether there is any connection to Night's allegations.

"The big thing is, right now, how they (Naistus and Wegner) got there. If it shows the police got them there, we got big problems. But if it shows somebody else got them there, somebody else has got big problems," Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson said Thursday.

"It looks bad, we know it looks bad, but we also have to keep an open mind. We don't have anything right now to connect the bodies to our people, other than it looks bad. You don't go into court and say it looks bad - find them guilty.

"Looking bad and having evidence to go ahead with something are two different things. You can't go into court on looking bad. You have to go to court on fact." Questions are now being raised about the police department's commitment to finding the answers.

On Feb. 4, Scott ordered major crimes investigators to examine the disappearance of Naistus and Wegner to find out how they ended up near the power station.

People who say they had contact with both men hours before they disappeared wonder why police never contacted them - other than for death notification and basic questions - until the stories were in the newspaper.

Investigators first contacted Brent Ahenakew, Wegner's roommate, the day officers discovered the frozen body.

"The first time they asked questions was when they came here and told me he was dead. Just a few quick questions, that was it.

"Where was he, who did he leave with, did he go some place," he said. "They were crime guys, in suits. They just said it was an open and shut case, that he walked out there. A guy died and that was it."

Officers did not return to Ahenakew until Wednesday.

Jennifer Whitecap, 18, called 911 the night Wegner disappeared to report a man matching his description pounding on her door, wearing only a T-shirt, jeans and socks. She heard nothing from the police until Wednesday.

"Yeah, I was surprised. You think they'd come back because the guy was running up the street with no jacket on and stuff," she said.

Darrell Naistus, who partied with his brother Rodney earlier on in the night he went missing, returned to his grandfather's Paradise Hills home the day after learning his brother died. The grandfather, Alphonse Naistus, says no police asked questions until earlier this week.

Thomson said the investigators have been busy "talking to all kinds of other people.


Natives step forward to challenge authorities

Dressed in a thin windbreaker, blue jeans and runners, Daniel remembers looking up from a field north of Saskatoon at the fuzzy lights of the city airport in the distance.

Driving away, he says, was a police cruiser with two uniformed officers, who had dropped him off on a chilly night in October 1990.

"You figure what their intentions were. Why did they leave me out there?" said Daniel, who asked that his real name not be used for fear of retribution for speaking out.

He says police officers have been taking troublesome people to the city limits and leaving them there for many years.

"There are eight to 10 people I could say have been driven out of town and told to get the hell out of the city," said Daniel.

The RCMP are investigating two senior police officers who allegedly dropped Darrell Night by the Queen Elizabeth II Power Station. The RCMP is also looking into two deaths from exposure in the area - Lawrence Wegner and Rodney Naistus.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has been inundated with phone calls from people telling their own stories about being abandoned by police outside the city, said spokesperson Darcy McKenzie.

"I'd say between myself, the vice-chief and the justice unit, safely assume there were upwards of 100 (calls) if not more. That's just within 24 hours," he said. "More than half were people who had similar experiences or had family who had similar experiences."

Daniel was well-known to city police and the justice system. He started getting into trouble with the law at age nine. In the early 1990s, he was spending much of his time in the downtown and Riversdale areas and was jailed for assault-related crimes.

He said one night in October 1990 he had been drinking with friends at the old Oriental House Restaurant on 20th Street. Uniformed police officers came in and told him he was being arrested. Daniel assumed it had to do with an outstanding warrant.

Intoxicated, Daniel entered the police cruiser and says he was driven to the city's edge north of the airport.

He says he doesn't remember if there were any words exchanged or the identities of the officers.

After the long walk back into the city Daniel arrived at a friend's home in Confederation Park. The people gathered were surprised to see Daniel, assuming he would be in jail for the night.

"They asked me where the hell did I go and how did I get out of jail. I said, 'What do you mean, I wasn't arrested. They just took me out of town.' Everybody I was hanging around with said, 'Oh, that happened to you now.' "

McKenzie says it has been distressing listening to the stories from people saying they were left at the edge of the city. He believes many of their tales are true.

"It's disheartening. It's troublesome. It's actually disgusting," he said.

"These are very sincere people. They are very honest people. They aren't going to make up stories and come out. What are they going to gain?"

He said he could not make public any of the people at this time.

The FSIN will use affidavits from the individuals to support its call for a full public inquiry into the suspension of two police officers, the dumping of Night near the power plant, and the deaths of Wegner and Naistus.

McKenzie said the federation will also give the RCMP the affidavits to help in their investigation.


Commission left in dark, Maddin says. Mayor doing poor job at providing information to members: councillor

Mayor Henry Dayday should do a better job of informing fellow police commission members about the investigation into allegations that two officers dumped a Native man south of the city in sub-zero temperatures, says another member of the commission.

"The commission is answerable to the public. We need a little more disclosure of information a little quicker, certainly," commission member and city Coun. Jim Maddin said Thursday.

"In a situation of this magnitude it's very unfortunate that members of the commission, on behalf of the citizens of this city, were not kept informed."

Maddin noted he learned the details when he read Tuesday's StarPhoenix, even though Dayday, chair of the commission, already knew more than the board. "I'm not happy about that and I've told (Dayday) so."

Maddin said it's not Chief Dave Scott's responsibility to call individual board members, but is Dayday's job.

"I certainly hope things like this don't happen down the road. If we don't have the information, it's akin to being neutered."

In a letter to The StarPhoenix, Maddin said there is little public confidence in police because of the allegations. He said the commission, which is comprised of himself, Dayday, Coun. Peter McCann and two other citizens, needs to be kept better informed.

He said a lack of community policing has contributed to the suspicion.

"Our police officers have lost the public trust and their every action is now viewed with suspicion," Maddin wrote.

"There is little room to wonder why the public feels betrayed."

Dayday said Maddin is "confused" about the role of the commission. He said it is there to direct policy, and should not be involved in police investigations.

"I'm not sure where (Maddin) is coming from," he said.

Dayday said Scott frequently tells him during phone conversations about officers that are being investigated. But Dayday said Scott calls him as a courtesy, rather than an obligation.

"We as a board have had a very good working relationship with our chief because we draw the line on where we step into his territory versus where he steps into ours," he said.

"We deal with the policy matters and he does the internal stuff and we don't want to get involved in that."

Following a meeting with Maddin Thursday morning, Dayday said he called a meeting of the entire commission for today at noon, which will include Scott.

McCann says he "has every confidence" in the way Scott and Dayday are handling the matter. The other two commission members were unavailable for comment Thursday.


Large crowd attends candlelight vigil

More than 400 mostly aboriginal students marched peacefully to the police station Thursday night in a vigil to remember two men who died from exposure to the weather on the outskirts of the city last month.

The vigil began on Seventh Avenue at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), where one of the dead men, Lawrence Wegner, had been a student. From there it proceeded - with a police escort - through the City Park neighbourhood to the police station.

Once there, the crowd did a huge round dance that blocked traffic across Fourth Avenue between the police station and the Sturdy Stone building. After about 10 minutes the group turned and retraced their steps to the SIFC campus.

Two Saskatoon police officers have been suspended and an external investigation launched after an aboriginal man, Darrell Night, told police two officers took him to the outskirts of the city and told him to walk back in freezing temperatures.

The bodies of two frozen aboriginal men were found in the same vicinity the same weekend, raising questions about whether there is a connection between the incidents.

"People are questioning how this could happen," said Joy Joachim, vice-president of the SIFC student association.

"It hits so close to home. One day he's in class and the next his death is all over the news. It's disheartening," she said.

"I'm hearing a lot of hope that something positive can come from such a negative situation," she said.

Among the assembled crowd were Wegner's parents and other family members. Others took a collection for the family and a sympathy card was passed around for signatures.

Some students wore long underwear over their clothes as a reminder of the cruel weather conditions that took the lives of the two men.

One man wore a sign that read, "Bundle up. It's a long cold walk."

Police Chief Dave Scott said he was encouraged by the peacefulness of the demonstration and the show of respect for the death of the two men.

"We really respect the orderly fashion with which they've come forward," he said.