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An Alberta team takes the reins of the investigation into the death of Afolabi Opaso

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Afolabi Stephen Opaso was shot and killed by Winnipeg police on December 31. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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The Manitoba Independent Investigation Unit (IEU) has asked the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) to take the reins of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Afolabi Stephen Opaso to “avoid any perception of conflict of interest”. This international student from Nigeria was shot and killed by Winnipeg police on December 31.

UEI civilian director Roxanne Gagné recommended transferring the investigation to an out-of-province civilian oversight team because a Manitoba Justice employee is a close relative of one of the officers involved in this case.

The involvement of an external agency in this investigation is important to preserve the integrity of the process, the UEI indicated in a press release. But, given the relationships between those involved, it was concluded that an out-of-province agency must be appointed to conduct the investigation, in order to preserve the integrity of the process.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">A spokesperson for the UEI indicates, however, that this maneuver does not call into question the professionalism and integrity of the organization's investigators .

The Minister of Justice has authorized the transfer of the file in accordance with section 20 of the Police Services Act.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">According to the Winnipeg police chief, on December 31, police received a call about a man exhibiting “erratic behavior.”

To Arriving on scene, officers found a man armed with two knives, and an officer shot him.

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Afolabi Stephen Opaso, 19, was taken to hospital in critical condition and died of his injuries.

The director of racial profiling and public security of the Red Coalition, Alain Babineau, welcomes the news of the transfer of this file to an external agency.

He indicates, however, that this does not increase the risks that the actions of the agents concerned will be judged reprehensible.

Mr. Babineau also believes that the interpretation of the Criminal Code is very broad regarding the circumstances in which the police can use deadly force.

We will see what happens happen at the end of the investigation, but generally, in cases like this, it is very, very, very rare that charges are laid, he said.

Mr. Babineau believes that transparency is the key in this matter, regardless of the results of the investigation.

I believe the first step for justice is to have a fair and transparent investigation.

A quote by Alain Babineau, general director of racial profiling and public security for the Red Coalition

The publication of the final report, regardless of whether charges are laid or not, would bring additional consolation […] or, at least, greater justice in the process, he adds.

A Candlelight vigil in memory of Afolabi Stephen Opaso will be organized Friday evening at the University of Manitoba.

With the information from Stephen Ripley

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