FSIN wants independent oversight of probes when people die dealing with police

SASKATOON — Indigenous groups want Saskatchewan to establish an independent civilian-led authority to oversee investigations when people die or are hurt in dealings with police.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Mistawasis Nehiyawak Cree First Nation west of Prince Albert say they are making the call to support Charmaine Dreaver.

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Her son, Jordan Lafond, died in 2016 after a truck crash and scuffle with Saskatoon police.

During the inquest, Saskatchewan's chief forensic pathologist testified he wasn't sure if Lafond died because of the crash or because he was kneed in the head by police four times.

A coroner's jury ruled his death an accident and an investigation by police and the coroner's office — overseen by the province — did not result in charges.

FSIN vice-chief Dutch Lerat says the family is pushing for changes to the Police Act in the hope of preventing police from investigating police.

"We have seen it for many years; police officers investigating themselves and it's time we have an independent oversight authority step in and take over these types of investigations," he said Tuesday in a release.

"They deserve answers and not from a police officer who investigated one of their own."

Mistawasis Nehiyawak Chief Daryl Watson said there must be independent civilian-led authority oversight like some other provincial jurisdictions.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

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