Jordan Lafond’s family renewing call for police oversight

Four years after Jordan Lafond died and two years after an inquest ruled his death was accidental, his family are renewing their calls for justice and police reform.

Approximately 70 people assembled at Saskatoon City Hall on Saturday afternoon to hear Charmaine Dreaver, Lafond’s mother, and Grace Lafond, his grandmother, speak about the need to reform the justice system.

“There’s always a mother crying for her child, a father wondering where his daughter is,” Grace told the crowd.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan unveils police reform bill that allows public oversight into deaths in custody

They presented the inquest into Jordan’s death, in which a Saskatoon police officer investigated the conduct of other Saskatoon police officers, as an example of a system that needs civilian oversight and that is biased towards people who aren’t white.

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They asked everyone attending the rally to sign a petition calling for legislative changes.

“The Police Act protects (officers),” Grace said.

“We found that out quite clear when we were in the inquest for my grandson.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s police reform bill does not go far enough, advocates say

Lafond, 21, died in 2016 after a stolen Ford F-150 truck, in which he was a passenger, crashed while being chased by police on Oct. 23.

Officers found him under the truck and he resisted arrest.

One officer later testified that gave Lafond three or four knee strikes to the head.

READ MORE: FSIN wants independent oversight of probes when people die dealing with police

Lafond died in hospital the next day and the province’s chief forensic pathologist was unable to determine if the crash or the knee strikes caused his death.

A coroner’s jury later determined the death was “accidental” and an investigation by the police and coroner’s office did not result in charges laid.

Saskatchewan does not have independent police oversight and the inquiry was conducted by detective Corey Lenius — a coworker of the two officers under investigation.

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Dreaver told reporters the inquest was biased and unfair.

READ MORE: Jury determines Jordan Lafond’s death was ‘accidental’

“We can’t have the police investigating each other. It’s friends investigating friends,” Dreaver said.

Agatha Rose Eaglechief, whose son Austin also died in a police chase, was also attending the rally and echoed that sentiment.

“Why have an inquest and waste the taxpayer’s money if they’re going to have that kind of scenario?” she said.

READ MORE: How the Jordan Lafond inquest highlights need for better police oversight

Dreaver and Grace Lafond said they stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter and that the global calls to reform police forces, ignited by the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

“We need this civilian oversight, an independent body, now,” Dreaver said.

“We need justice and we will never give up until we get justice for Jordan and for many others.”

Dreaver said the recently proposed changes don’t go far enough.

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