Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Attacks by James Smith: Melfort RCMP detachment commander testifies | Saskatchewan knife attacks

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In the afternoon, the jury and members of the audience will hear the testimony of the first police officers who intervened in the James Smith Cree Nation on the day of the tragedy.

  • Vincent H. Turgeon (View profile)Vincent H. Turgeon

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The coroner's inquest into the September 4, 2022 attacks in Saskatchewan began its third day of hearings on Wednesday with testimony from Melfort Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Detachment Commander Ryan Case. p>

On September 4, 2022, Myles Sanderson stabbed 11 people, including his brother, Damien Sanderson, and injured 17 others in the James Smith Cree Nation and the neighboring village of Weldon, Saskatchewan. This is the worst stabbing attack in Canadian history.

A manhunt ensues for three days until law enforcement spotted the car in which Myles Sanderson was traveling on September 7 near the village of Rosthern, 66 km northeast of Saskatoon.

Shortly after his arrest, the fugitive found himself in a state of respiratory distress. Paramedics were called to the scene to take him to a Saskatoon hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead.

Although Ryan Case was not occupying not yet in this position at the time of the attacks, he was able to explain how his detachment operated and its relations with the James Smith Cree Nation.

From the outset, the police officer acknowledged that his team of 16 officers was very busy, emphasizing several times during his testimony that he could benefit from a larger team. The Melfort detachment covers an area spanning 300 km2.

Due to a lack of personnel, only two officers are on call between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. no police officer is then actively on duty. However, on September 4, 2022, Myles Sanderson began carrying out his attacks around 5:40 a.m.

Knife attacks in Saskatchewan

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Of all the calls Melfort police have to respond to, about 10% come from the James Smith Cree Nation. As an indication, from October 1 to December 31, approximately 200 calls received by the Melfort RCMP detachment were from the First Nation.

Ryan Case also reiterated the comments made by his colleague on Monday, Staff Sergeant Robin Zentner, emphasizing the importance of having good communication between the RCMP and the different communities.

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“We are considering a system of governance with our own police,” already indicated the Chief of the Cree Nation, Wally Burns, during the ceremonies marking the first anniversary of the tragedy.

Since the September 2022 shootings, the James Smith Cree Nation has created its own security team. Its members, without being police officers, can patrol the community and offer help when necessary.

They offer us local knowledge […] ] They help us in many ways, Mr. Case emphasized during his testimony.

Although this security team sometimes makes it possible to avoid having to resort to police services, particularly for minor incidents such as a car breaking down on the side of the road. the road, its members are unarmed and do not have the legal authority to respond to crimes or violent incidents.

Ryan Case recalled that the James Smith Cree Nation potentially wishes to have its own police service. He admitted, however, that such a question was beyond his authority. However, discussions are underway for one or two RCMP officers to be based in the First Nation.

In the afternoon, the jury and members of the audience will hear the testimony of the first police officers who intervened in the James Smith Cree Nation on the day of the tragedy.

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The coroner's inquest is being held at the Kerry Vickar Centre, in Melfort.

Over the past few days, the staff sergeant of the Major Crimes Unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Robin Zentner, presented to the jurors and the audience the chronology of events as well as the conclusions of the investigation led by the RCMP.

Having started Monday, the coroner's inquest, which is taking place in Melfort, approximately 40 km of the two communities affected by the killings, aims to shed light on the deaths of the different victims, in particular the manner, when and where they were killed. It also aims to make recommendations to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

A second investigation into the death of Myles Sanderson is scheduled for February.

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