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Canada: South Sudanese communities mourning after fatal police shooting.

Canada: South Sudanese communities mourning after fatal police shooting.


photo Source: Calgary Sun ©South Sudanese Calgarians are mourning after police shot and killed a community member Saturday.


Calgary police shot Latjor Tuel multiple times during an altercation in which he allegedly attacked a police service dog with a metal stick in the southeast community of Forest Lawn. He died on scene.

Family, friends and community members gathered at the site of the shooting, a bus stop on 17th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets S.E., to lay flowers on Sunday afternoon.

“When he came here, he was hoping to begin a new life,” said Chatim Thor, Tuel’s cousin.

“He’s been supporting his family back home still, until last night. It will be a difficult situation, who will carry on that responsibility. He has not just lost his life. It’s put other people in jeopardy. Latjor was a hard-working man. He did everything he did to help his family.

“We lost a great man. We lost a peace lover. He came to Canada and chose Canada because he wanted a peaceful place.”

Tuel arrived in Canada almost 20 years ago as a refugee from South Sudan, where he was a child soldier.

Khor Top, president of the local South Sudanese Community Association, said he first met Tuel shortly after his arrival in Calgary.

“He’s a very kind gentleman, generous, and very well known in the community. This is really affecting the community,” Top said.

“It’s been very difficult … We’re trying to look into what really happened.”

In a news release issued Saturday evening, police said officers responded to reports of a man in possession of weapons at 3:40 p.m. Saturday. They said witnesses reported the man had assaulted a bystander and was threatening others.

Police said the man was holding a weapon when they arrived on scene and they were unable to negotiate a peaceful resolution. They said the shooting victim severely injured a police dog, but that it was in stable condition after being taken to an animal hospital.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team confirmed late Saturday it is investigating the incident, but the police watchdog had yet to provide additional details as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Loved ones of Tuel at the scene told Postmedia he was struggling with mental health at the time of the incident.

South Sudanese advocate Lina Atak was buying groceries nearby when Tuel was shot and witnessed the altercation. She told Postmedia Saturday Tuel was carrying a long metal stick but didn’t drop it when asked by police. She said police released a service dog as Tuel approached the officers. When Tuel hit the dog with the stick, police shot him four times, she said.

Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott said the situation feels distressingly familiar, with a person of colour in crisis dead after a police interaction.

“My initial reaction is one of sadness and regret. I often ask myself, whenever I see things like this, how many systems have to fail — or, to be honest, be non-existent — where we find ourselves in this situation?” said Walcott, who also sits on the Calgary Police Commission.

Fellow Calgary Police Commission member Heather Campbell tweeted that questions will be asked of police “in due course.” She declined additional comment.

“Right now, a man is tragically dead in a horrific manner,” Campbell said. “A family has lost a loved one and a son. Crisis is showing itself in layers. A community is in deep mourning and grief.”

The Calgary Police Commission meets Wednesday, with commissioners expected to question police officials on the Saturday shooting. Officers at the scene Saturday wouldn’t comment on the situation and the force said in its statement no further information was available.

Young Black people living in Forest Lawn are facing “constant harassment” from police, Thor said, arguing officers mishandled the situation Saturday with tragic consequences.

Local South Sudanese musician K-Denk questioned the decision by police to use lethal force.

“This is not a third-world country, for you to use a live bullet on a person because he hit a dog with his stick,” he said.

“This is a country where you can use a rubber bullet or taser, and since there were many police, I believe they had enough manpower to control the situation instead of going violently.”

Calgary lawyer Amy Matychuk with Prison & Police Law said the shooting is just the latest to call into question whether police should attend calls for people in mental health crisis.

“It’s hard not to wonder what would have happened if there could have been some kind of mental health first response team that could have been called instead of the police,” Matychuk said.

She added police should publicly field questions on their decision to use police dogs and discharge their firearms while responding to this call.

Source: Calgary Sun ©



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