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Indigenous leaders demand public inquiry into fatal police incident in Williams Lake

WLFN chief, UBCIC grand chief will speak at press conference Tuesday, July 19
Williams Lake RCMP and North District Emergency Response Team officers respond to the corner of Smedley Street and Eleventh Avenue on Sunday, July 10. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) are calling for a public inquiry into the RCMP’s response to a call for help that they say resulted in a First Nation man’s death by suicide.

The call came from the family of a Williams Lake First Nation man who the family feared was contemplating self-harm. The incident unfolded very publicly outside an apartment building in Williams Lake on Sunday, July 10.

RCMP officers established a perimeter and eventually the North District Emergency Response team arrived.

A police negotiator attempted to contact the man speaking through a loud speaker and later members of the response team deployed less-lethal explosive devices and broke the front window of the home.

WLFN and UBCIC stated in a joint news release they believe the response by the RCMP ultimately resulted in the man’s death.

“Williams Lake First Nation, alongside the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, is launching a call for a public inquiry into the RCMP’s response and the need for national reform to the RCMP’s discriminatory practices toward Indigenous peoples.”

WLFN Chief Willie Sellars, UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Philip and a family delegate will speak at a media press conference Tuesday, July 19 at the WLFN office on Quigli Drive at 10 a.m.

B.C.’s police watch dog, the Independent Investigations Office, is investigating the incident.

READ MORE: One man found dead in Williams Lake home with weapon, IIO BC investigating

A Williams Lake city councillor later issued a public apology for posting videos and photographs to his Facebook as the scene unfolded.

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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