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Calgary police killed a Black man
His name was Latjor Tuel
On Saturday, Calgary police shot and killed Latjor Tuel, a South Sudanese man who was suffering from a mental health crisis, in broad daylight, further bolstering the case for re-allocating a significant portion of the bloated police budget toward agencies equipped to deal with people in distress.
Community members gathered the day after at the site of Tuel’s killing in the southeast neighbourhood of Forest Lawn to pay their respects, placing flowers where he was shot.
Tuel came to Canada 20 years ago as a refugee from Sudan, where he was deployed as a child soldier, a predicament that left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, which Ferrel said was exacerbated in recent months.
She described him as a hard worker and good provider for his family.
“His whole family back home depends on him. This man will send everything he has back home. He was the kindest person you will ever meet. Everyone knew who Latjor was,” said Ferrel.
Tuel’s sister, Nyakuon Tut, said her brother’s mental illness shouldn’t have been a death sentence.
"He is my big brother but they [shot] him like a dog,” Tut told CTV News. “My brother, he had a problem with his mind … I don't know why the police killed him. He didn't do anything – he's not a killer."
“We lost a great man. We lost a peace lover. He came to Canada and chose Canada because he wanted a peaceful place,” Thor said.
A Calgary Police Service (CPS) news release announcing Tuel’s killing — using police jargon, such as “officer-involved shooting,” to obscure the obvious — didn’t even mention his name, let alone those of the officers who shot him, but did say a police dog had been “seriously injured” during the altercation.
Police claim they were called to 45th Street and 17th Avenue SE around 3:40 p.m. after reports that a man “believed to be in possession of weapons” had assaulted someone. The news release claims the cops “attempted to negotiate a peaceful resolution.”
“Despite their de-escalation efforts, the man’s action led to officers discharging their service weapons,” the cops’ release reads, without mention of what these de-escalation efforts entailed.
Video footage of the altercation, which has since been removed from YouTube, shows several cop cars surrounding Tuel near a bus stop while he bangs a large metal stick on the ground.
According to a news release from the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which is investigating his death, Tuel was shot twice with ARWEN plastic bullets, after which he approached the police canine with a knife. He got tased before being shot.
After getting shot, Tuel appears to still be alive while the two officers who shot him back away. After a couple minutes, they approach him with two other officers.
“Why didn’t they send the dog to take him down? That’s what dogs are trained to do,” Edmonton-based criminal defence lawyer Tom Engel told me. “My theory is that they didn’t want to use the dog because they valued the life of the dog over that of a human being.
“I can’t think of any other explanation.”
Just months ago, a police canine in San Diego got stabbed by a suspect, but was still able to take him down with the assistance of a bean bag gun, Engel added.
At a Tuesday press conference, CPS Chief Mark Neufeld said police didn’t consider the matter a mental health call because it was reported as an assault.
“It’s very difficult to hear people speak callously about situations that result in the loss of a life, as if they don’t also affect the police officers who are involved,” he said bizarrely.
Engel says there is almost certainly more footage of the incident from various angles available that would provide a clearer picture of what happened.
“CPS and ASIRT should have a duty to release it to the public immediately, along with the names of the officers, as happens all the time in the U.S.,” Engel said. “Transparency is crucial and we shouldn’t have to wait 2-3 years for ASIRT to finish first.”
You can donate at a GoFundMe for Tuel’s family here.
(This piece has been updated with ASIRT’s account of events and new quotes from Engel.)
In other news …
In a letter dated Feb. 17, administration said it “does not tolerate mandatory vaccination or any other discriminatory requirements for any employee, contractor, or sub-contractor at Mackenzie County workplaces or for any work sites” within the 80,000 square-kilometre county, which is Alberta’s largest.
In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, county Reeve Joshua Knelsen called COVID restrictions and vaccine mandates “absolutely evil.”
“In my opinion, and maybe I shouldn’t be saying that, but in my personal opinion, I feel that the RCMP should be arresting Mr. Trudeau and putting him in prison,” Knelsen said. “The damage that he has done to not just Albertans but to Canadians across the country is absolutely unacceptable and it will take a lot of healing to take and recover from the damage that he has done to all Canadians.”
The county has the lowest vaccination rate in the province, with just 38.1% of those eligible having received their first dose.
Farrell, a long-time Calgary city councillor before her retirement last year, announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination for Calgary-Bow in a video posted to Twitter on Monday.
Farrell, who was one of the most consistently progressive voices on Calgary city council during her 20 years there, told Global News she’s been approached to run by various political parties over the years, but was always reluctant to enter partisan politics.
This time, Farrell said, she decided to go for it because of the damage the UCP is doing to the province’s social fabric.
Calgary-Bow is represented by Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides.
Edited by Scott Schmidt
(Note to readers: I’m swamped with assignments this week, so there will be no Orchard on Friday. Apologies.)
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