MIRAMICHI, N.B. — Chief Bill Ward of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation says Rodney Levi shouldn’t have become the province’s second victim of a fatal police shooting in less than a month.
He says he had his demons — but he never tried to harm anybody.
“He didn’t talk or have an intimidating voice, or intimidating gestures. He wasn’t that type of person, he was very friendly, he could be very polite,” Ward said.
He commented after Levi was shot dead by police Friday near Miramichi when he went to his church looking for help.
Ward became emotional during a social media availability.
“That’s what we can do now is be there for his family. I think that’s where we should focus for now, is be there for his family –anything they need,” he said through tears.
Ward asked at one point if a person should be shot because they are sick. He said if they had called Levi’s family to intervene, he would have listened to them.
On Friday, Quebec’s police watchdog said it was been called in to investigate a report of an RCMP-involved fatal shooting of a man in New Brunswick.
Soon after, Ward confirmed the man shot was Indigenous.
“I’m so mad and sad, I don’t know what to think,” he posted on Facebook Friday night.
On Friday, the Bureau des enquetes independantes, said it was told that Mounties responded to a report of a disturbed person in the Miramichi area on Friday night.
It said preliminary information indicates RCMP officers found the man armed with a knife in a building and used an electronic stun gun on him several times without success.
Investigators say the man was allegedly shot when he charged police, was given first aid and transported to hospital where he was declared dead.
Ward questions this version of events.
“From what I hear he may have had just a fear of being hurt by people. While he was there they say he grabbed a knife but from what I’m hearing he didn’t threaten anybody, he just had it in his sweater.”
‘It was a wellness check and someone died’: Chantel Moore shot and killed by police
On June 4, Chantel Moore, a member of a B.C. First Nation, was shot and killed by police in New Brunswick.
Police say Moore’s death came when an officer performing a wellness check allegedly encountered a woman with a knife.
The shooting is also being investigated by Quebec’s independent police investigation agency.
Late last week, a coalition of Maliseet First Nations called for an independent probe of the New Brunswick justice system in light of Moore’s death.
The six chiefs in the Wolastoqey First Nation in New Brunswick issued a joint statement expressing their condolences to Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in B.C. to which Moore belonged.
It is signed by the chiefs of communities along the Saint John River Valley, including Tobique, St. Mary’s, Madawaska, Oromocto, Kingsclear and Woodstock First Nations.
Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart said in an emailed statement that a probe has started through Quebec’s independent police investigation agency, known as the Bureau des enquetes independantes, along with a New Brunswick coroner’s investigation.
“Decisions on next steps will be taken after the investigations have been completed,” wrote the solicitor general.
It remains unclear what agency will recommend if a prosecution should proceed for the shooting, as the Bureau des enquetes independantes has stated its sole role is to produce a summary of the facts.
Their findings will be sent to the public prosecution service and the RCMP, said an email from a spokesman for Urquhart.
The Quebec agency has provided a brief statement, saying its investigation will determine if the information provided by police is accurate.
The City of Edmundston and the Edmundston Police Force said Friday they will make no further comment.
The union representing the 30 police officers and 11 dispatchers in the service said on Saturday in a release that it wished to offer sincere condolences to the family of Moore, calling the death “a difficult and tragic situation for all the parties involved.”
Relatives have said that Moore’s mother, Martha, had been raising Chantel’s daughter Gracie in New Brunswick, and Moore recently moved there to be with her mother and daughter and to go to college.
In Ottawa Friday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has said the family deserves answers, quickly. “It was a wellness check and someone died,” he said. “I can’t process that.”
With files from Lisa Steacy