M�tis Federation wants inquiry
Published Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:19PM CST
M�tis Federation President David Chartrand says Winnipeg police use excessive force when dealing with people of Aboriginal descent.
He wants the province to hold an immediate inquest into the death of 17-year-old Michael Langan.
Langan, who was M�tis, died Tuesday after being tasered by police.
"If the boy was not of aboriginal descent, being of a member of the M�tis Nation, would they have used a Taser," Chartrand asked CTV reporter Stacey Ashley. "If he was non-aboriginal would they have talked to him or considered a different opportunity?"
Thursday afternoon Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill held a press conference to address the accusations.
"It appears that officers attended and approached a person with very little time and approached a person who was pointed out to them and this device activated," he said. "The investigation will reveal exactly what transpired but I think it is too early to make any suggestion of any nature, and I have respect for Mr. Chartrand; but we have to wait until our investigation unfolds."
A knife to protect himself
Brian Minchin, Langan's father, wants answers too; but he told CTV News he doesn't believe race was a factor in the incident at all.
He says his son had a troubled life. He said Langan had recently bought a knife to protect himself, and that he'd been in trouble with officers before.
"He just didn't have any respect for authority," Minchin said. "I think that's why he didn't' listen to the cops. He had a 'I don't give a fuck attitude.'"
Still Minchin says he wishes police had tried a different tactic to disarm his son.
"If he lunges at him with a knife they're trained to disarm him they didn't have to shoot him. Now I don't have a son."
Langan was tasered in a back lane near William Avenue, close to Arlington Street. He was pronounced dead later in hospital.
Officers say two men spotted a 17-year-old stealing something from a vehicle Tuesday afternoon.
Those men followed the teen and flagged police down for help.
"Refused to comply"
When officers encountered Langan in a back alley, they say he was armed with a knife.
"They repeatedly asked him to disarm himself and to drop the knife," const. Jacqueline Chaput said. "The male refused to comply and at that point the electronic control device was deployed.
"[His action] posed a threat to the officers that poses a threat to the public and officers made the decision to deploy the electronic control device."
Police won't say how many times the teen was tasered.
An autopsy was performed Wednesday, but the results could take some time.
Lengthy investigations just beginning
The autopsy is only the beginning of a lengthy investigation. Because this is an officer involved fatality, the Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit is investigating. After an outside police agency will review the case.
That review goes to the Attorney General, and then there's a mandatory inquest into the teen's death.
The officers involved have been put on administrative leave, which is normal police policy.