New Brunswick prosecutors will not lay criminal charges against police officers involved in the shooting death of Rodney Levi of Metepenagiag First Nation.
Levi, 48, was shot and killed by RCMP on June 12, 2020, when they responded to a call for assistance on Boom Road, about 30 kilometres southwest of Miramichi.
“In our opinion, the peace officers in question were acting lawfully to protect the residents of the home on that fateful evening,” the New Brunswick Office of the Attorney General said in a statement Tuesday.
Levi was the second Indigenous person killed by police in New Brunswick within a two-week period.
The first was Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old woman of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, who was living in Edmundston. She was shot by an Edmundston police officer.
The two deaths sparked an outcry from the community, including calls for charges and an inquiry into systemic racism in the justice system in New Brunswick.
‘This is not over’ Levi family lawyer says
Alise Lombard, the lawyer for the Levi family, said Tuesday that family members are considering their legal options and would not comment for now.
“This is not over. Far from it,” she said. “But for the moment, I think they just need some time to process before going out there and saying anything.”
The Crown made the decision not to pursue charges after it reviewed a report made by Bureau des Enquêtes indépendantes du Québec, or BEI.
The BEI, Quebec’s police watchdog, was created in June 2016 to investigate cases when civilians are seriously injured or killed in police operations. It was in charge of reviewing the deaths of both Moore and Levi.
Lombard said the family met with the BEI and the director of prosecutions on Tuesday to learn details of the investigation.
“They’re processing the information that was shared today and they did receive a lot of answers that they did not have prior,” she said.
The attorney general’s media release said the BEI investigation looked at statements from the witnesses, a short video taken by one of the witnesses “that shows part of the actual event,” and expert reports.
The media release said in order to lay charges, the Crown must be able to see “evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.” The Crown prosecutor’s office did not see such evidence after reviewing the BEI report, the release said.
The release said the officer opened fire after “repeated attempts to engage with Mr. Levi peacefully, and followed several applications of a Taser to disarm him from the dangerous weapons (knives) he refused to yield.”
Regardless of charges, New Brunswick’s Office of the Chief Coroner will be conducting an inquest into Levi’s death on Oct. 4. The exact location and who will preside has not yet been announced.
During the inquest, the coroner and a jury will hear evidence and “make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future,” a provincial news release said.
New Brunswick RCMP Commanding Officer Larry Tremblay said in a statement the RCMP “respect the decision made by the Public Prosecutions Services,” and will not be offering any further comment related to the BEI investigation.