First NationsLawNews

Comparison of two police-shootings in Northern Ontario

NAPS victim survives leg wound - TPS police shooting victim dies

by Frank Giorno

During the first four months of 2018, two police-shootings have occurred in Northeastern Ontario, one in Timmins, Ontario on February 3, 2018 and the other police shooting in Attawapiskat, Ontario near James Bay.

This week, First Nations Chiefs will be meeting with Gilles Bisson, MPP for Timmins-James Bay, and City of Timmins officials to address some concerns the Chiefs have over the police-shooting; and the death of Agnes Sutherland, 62, also from Fort Albany died on the same day as the Knapaysweet police-shooting, while she was in Timmins police custody. 

Bisson said the meeting was requested by the First Nations Chiefs and will likely include discussions on identifying and implementing improvements.

In this article, the ONE compares the Attawapiskat Nishnawbe Aski Police Services(NAPS) police-shooting of a male indigenous person on April 19, 2018  to Timmins police-shooting of Joey Knapaysweet, a  21-year old indigenous man on February 3, 2018.

The purpose of compiling this comparison of the two police- shootings is to foster community discussion leading to improvements  understanding of options available to police departments and their officers when they are managing tense, potentially dangerous standoffs with individuals. 

Resistance to accepting the truth of what happened in the past, in the words of  philosopher George Santayana, will lead to the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, ” said George Santayana.

One of the keys to understanding the two different outcomes in the police- shootings is the perception of race or ethnic origin in the assessment of danger and risk. How did the perception affect the decision making process of the officers, who had their  weapons pointed at the two individuals? 

We know a lot more about the Attawapiskat NAPS police shooting because some individuals in the community shared their cell phone video with The ONE.   

We still do not have all the facts surrounding  Timmins police shooting.

An Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is investigating the shooting of Joey Knapaysweet and at  its conclusion the facts will emerge. 


In compiling the comparison The ONE examined media reports surrounding the killing of Joey Knapaysweet. 

For the Attawapiskat portion The ONE incorporated a cell phone video from a resident who witnessed the standoff between NAPS and the suspect.

On Friday, April 2oth an unidentified resident of Attawapiskat, sent a cell phone video to The ONE of the shooting that occurred on Thursday April 19th.

NAPS has not released details about what ignited the situation into an armed confrontation.

At one point armed NAPS police officers with weapons drawn aim them towards the man who was by a front door of a nearby house.

Officers can be heard yelling “Drop it right now, drop it now.”

Three shots were fired in the direction of the man. The individual survived the shooting and police ordered the man to stay on the ground.

“Get on the ground. Lay down now, get on the ground! Get on the ground!” police shout orders to the man.

The  man was grazed by one of the bullets but he walks away from the house, toward the street.

“Put your hands up! Put your hands up, all the way up!,” one of the officers yells.

Two more police officers arrive carrying rifles. One of the officers pinned the man and handcuffed him.

The suspect appeared to be wounded in the leg.

No immediate reports are available on the man’s condition or on charges filed against him.

Warning this video contains graphic scenes and strong language that many may find offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.

Video of wounding of Attawapiskat Man by NAPS police


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Frank Giorno

Frank Giorno lives in Timmins, Ontario. He is a graduate of York University (Honors B.A Political Science) and Ryerson School of Journalism (B.A. Journalism). Frank has worked as a city hall reporter for the Brandon Sun; freelanced for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. He is the past editor of and the newsletter of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers. Frank has also worked as Research Director for the Canadian Environmental Law Association; Senior Communications Advisor on Water Quality Issues for the Ministry of the Environment; Public Affairs Associate for Region of Peel Public Works; and Media Relations Officer for Toronto Public Health. In Timmins, he served as the Communications Manager for Mushkegowuk Environmental Research Centre/Five Nations Energy Project on Energy Conservation. He freelanced for Frank is a published author of essays on the internment of Italian-Canadians during World War 2, “Internee 328: Camp Petawawa” co-written with James McCreath appears in “Beyond Barbed Wire” (Guernica Editions 2012). He has published four books of poetry, My Nation is a Train...Wreck (2017, Northern Voices Publications), MoPoPoMo (2016, Northern Voices Publications), “Elvis in America,” and “Arrivederci! Plastic Covered Couch ( 2006, 2008 Lyricalmyrical Press)”.

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