Native leaders call for police overhaul in wake of freezing-death report


eddie-marray-campaignersoriginally published: 20th March 2009

First Nations leaders are calling for a complete overhaul of B.C.’s police system in keeping with a highly critical report on the freezing death of a homeless aboriginal man a decade ago.

The Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs say they agree with a former judge’s report that police failed Frank Paul, who died of exposure after being dumped by police in an alley in December 1998.

“The report validates the concerns expressed by Mr. Paul’s family who have pushed for years for a public inquiry into his tragic death,” the leaders of the groups said in a news release. “There can be no question that the system failed Mr. Paul.”

Paul was picked up by police for being drunk in a public place and dragged into the police-run drunk tank but was refused admission by the sergeant.

The soaking wet alcoholic was then dragged back into a police wagon and left in an alley, where he died. Paul’s family in New Brunswick have said police told them he was killed in a hit-and-run accident.

Former judge William Davies, who presided over an inquiry into Paul’s death, issued a scathing report last week, calling on police to stop investigating themselves after someone has died in their custody.

“These systemic flaws are grounded in conflict of interest — police investigating themselves,” Davies said. “Mistakes marked by indifference, callousness and failure to care, evident in the Frank Paul case, often occur in a system that neither requires nor facilitates best performances, nor holds individuals accountable for the effective discharge of their public duties,” he concluded.

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