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Police commission clears officer in B.C. woman’s shooting death

Probe finds insufficient evidence Jeremy Son breached professional conduct in death of Chantel Moore
A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Officer Jeremy Son, the New Brunswick police officer who shot and killed Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations mother Chantel Courtney Moore during a “wellness check” in June 2020, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the New Brunswick Police Commission.

In a Nov. 18 statement, chair Marc Léger said the commission will take no further action as there is insufficient evidence that the officer committed a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct Regulation.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Judith Sayers was not pleased with the decision.

“It is outrageous that a police officer can shoot a young woman four times and be told it is ok,” she said in an email.

In the early morning hours of June 4, 2020, Moore was fatally shot by Son at her residence in Edmundston, NB. According to the BEI (Bureau des Enquêtes Indépendantes) summary, Son arrived at her house and knocked on her living room window several times. Moore opened the door, armed with a small steak knife and walked towards him.

In a recorded statement, Son said that at the time he shot her, he felt that he had no other alternatives. He estimates it was a matter of seconds from the time that Moore came out her door to the time that he shot her.

When asked by investigators why he went to his left (instead of to the right, where there was an exit route), as Moore exited the apartment, Son expressed regret.

“Use of Force instructor, he knew that an officer should always take into account/consideration your environment, to ensure you leave yourself an exit path, and not cornering himself as he did,” reads the BEI report.

“He acknowledges that had he done that, the sequence of events may have had a different outcome.”

Son states that Moore had the small steak knife in her left hand when he shot her. However, the forensic examination of the Cuisinart knife states she was possibly holding the knife in their right hand, and that fingerprints were not easily detected until the blade was treated chemically.

“This too continues to disturb her family,” said Sayers.

No real-time surveillance, police vehicle dash cam, or body-worn video camera evidence captured the events.

In an email statement, Edmundston Police Chief Alain Lang confirmed that following the results of the commission, Son will be able to resume his duties as a patrol officer.

This summer, a year after Moore was killed, the New Brunswick Public Prosecutors office announced that upon reviewing the BEI report, it would not proceed with criminal charges. The Office of the Chief Coroner is committed to holding an inquest into the death, scheduled for February 2022.

Subject to the Police Act and the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the New Brunswick Police Commission cannot release the investigation report or its findings and conclusions. However, Léger noted the investigation’s policy and procedural review found issues outside the Commission’s mandate.

“The Coroner’s Inquest into Ms. Moore’s death may raise those issues as well and the Commission is ready to fully cooperate with the coroner,” said Léger.

Sayers continues to press for a co-developed justice system.

“Without Indigenous involvement in these complaint processes, there will never be justice,” she said.

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