Thunder Bay Police Officers Could Face Disciplinary Hearings over DeBungee Murder Investigation

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Legal

Thunder Bay – NEWS – Three Thunder Bay Police officers could be facing disciplinary hearings over the handling of the investigation into the death of Stacy DeBungee in 2015.

On February 17, 2021, adjudicator Lee Ferrier issued his decision that three officers involved in the deficient investigation into the 2015 death of Stacy DeBungee, a member of Rainy River First Nations, should face disciplinary proceedings. Mr. Ferrier indicated that the three officers may be served with Notices of Hearing, which is the first step in instituting disciplinary proceedings under the Police Services Act. Mr. Ferrier heard oral arguments from all parties on February 10, 2021.

Quoting both Justice Helen Pierce of the Superior Court and Justice Sharpe of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Ferrier noted that his decision was just one part of a much larger controversy involving policing of Indigenous people in Thunder Bay. He cited the public importance in seeing serious police misconduct adjudicated.

In 2018, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director found there were reasonable grounds to believe that the three officers had engaged in serious misconduct: neglect of duty by three officers, and discreditable conduct – specifically, discriminatory conduct relating to Stacy DeBungee’s Indigenous status – by two of the three officers.

Mr. Ferrier found that the delay in serving these officers with Notices of Hearing is explained by the administrative steps taken, the withdrawal of the initial investigator due to illness, as well as the nature and complexity of the complaints. Mr. Ferrier found that in the circumstances, the matter could not reasonably have been completed within the 6-month delay that was in issue.Falconers LLP represents Stacy DeBungee’s brother, Brad DeBungee, and Rainy River First Nations.