Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Editorial News
Classified Sites

Brandon Sun - ONLINE EDITION

Veil of secrecy encourages misinformation

THE verdicts always seem to come quick in the court of public opinion.

But Manitoba RCMP aren't doing themselves any favours in that regard by refusing to answer even the most basic of questions surrounding Sunday's shooting of a young native man in Norway House.

Why were they confronting him? Did he have any weapons? How many shots were fired? How many hit the man? Where was he struck? How many officers were at the scene? How many opened fire? Were other options, such as a Taser, deployed or considered?

I understand the need to tread carefully, given the sensitive nature of this case. But there are ways to do that and still offer up some basic, necessary information.

Take, for example, the recent shooting by Winnipeg police of a robbery suspect. The incident, which occurred last month, was reported in a news release in which police made it clear they were in the process of trying to stop a crime in progress and the suspect refused an order to drop a weapon and came towards police.

It wasn't a lot of detail, but it at least put the incident in some perspective. And it certainly limited the public frenzy from running rampant.

That's certainly not the case here.

While the matter will eventually be sorted out by justice officials, the challenges presented in this case go well beyond the courtroom and into the community. And they threaten to tear open old wounds in this province.

The little we do know about what happened -- gleaned through witness reports, which can be notoriously untrustworthy and biased -- certainly doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Those in Norway House speak of an unarmed man, his hands raised in the air and posing no apparent threat, being gunned down while hundreds of witnesses, many of them children, look on.

If true, that is one damning indictment of the RCMP.

The Free Press has been able to obtain other details through sources and court records, most notably that the man who was shot is now facing a handful of serious criminal charges and also has a notorious history with the justice system.

That all may have played a role in how police handled the situation Sunday. But like everything surrounding this case, it is all speculation.

It's no secret there is a history of poor relations in Manitoba between police and aboriginal communities. That is likely playing a role, as perhaps RCMP are afraid of saying anything that might make the situation worse. Sources tell me they believe the RCMP officer who fired is white, and there are those within Norway House who are suggesting race had something to do with this.

Of course, it would be helpful to know more about the officer who pulled the trigger, specifically what kind of experience and training he had. Inexperienced officers are often deployed to remote locales to start their careers, but we have no idea whether that was the case here because details aren't being released.

One of the problems with this type of veil of secrecy is it actually encourages the spread of misinformation.

Just look at the initial reaction to the shooting, which has been swift on social media. It can pretty much be divided into two camps: those who have already declared the RCMP are guilty of some wrongdoing here, and those who feel this was completely justified and the shooting victim had it coming.

It could be years before the truth is known. But regardless of the outcome, the damage may already have been done.

www.mikeoncrime.com

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media