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'Everyone has a right to live': Protesters demand answers in police shooting of Nigerian student

Dozens of protesters took to the streets of downtown Winnipeg on Jan. 27, 2024, calling for answers in the police shooting of 19-year-old Afolabi Stephen Opaso. (Source: Gary Robson/CTV News Winnipeg) Dozens of protesters took to the streets of downtown Winnipeg on Jan. 27, 2024, calling for answers in the police shooting of 19-year-old Afolabi Stephen Opaso. (Source: Gary Robson/CTV News Winnipeg)
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Dozens of protesters took to the streets of downtown Winnipeg demanding answers in the police shooting of a 19-year-old Nigerian student.

The crowd of people marched through downtown Saturday afternoon to the Manitoba Legislature where they called for change in police responses to mental health calls.

"This must not happen again. Everyone has a right to live," said Obehi Vera Keyede, the president of the Nigerian Association of Manitoba. "Everyone has rights to call 911."

The protest comes in the wake of 19-year-old Afolabi Stephen Opaso, who died after being shot by Winnipeg police on New Year's Eve.

Opaso, who was from Nigeria, had been studying economics at the University of Manitoba at the time.

Police have said officers were responding to reports of a man acting erratically when they encountered Opaso armed with two knives. However, a lawyer for Opaso's family told CTV News the man was having a mental health episode and said there is no indication Opaso attacked police.

"We are here today not for long speeches, but to stand in solidarity with the Opaso family and the families of all victims of fatal police shootings in our community and our province," Titi Tijani, president of African Communities of Manitoba Inc., said at the protest.

"We are here to stand up for justice and speak out loudly that enough is enough… no more killings of our people. Our community cannot continue to be at the receiving end of these tragic and avoidable lethal shootings by the police."

The protest called for a speedy and transparent investigation into the death, so the family can get answers as to what happened.

The investigation into this case is being handled by Alberta's police watch dog. Manitoba's Independent Investigations Unit handed it off to them after learning one of the officers involved in the shooting is closely related to a Manitoba Justice employee. 

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