The fatal shooting of Rodney Levi by RCMP last month will be examined through a coroner’s inquest.
Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the province’s Department of Public Safety, confirmed in an email Tuesday that an inquest will take place sometime in the future.
The announcement means there are now three coroner’s inquests that will take place in the province into fatal police shootings, and the second called this year to look at the death of a First Nations person at the hands of police.
Inquests are formal court proceedings where evidence related to a person’s death is publicly presented to a jury that can make recommendations on how to potentially avoid similar deaths in the future.
The process doesn’t assign blame or make findings of legal responsibility.
Levi, a 48-year-old man from Metepenagiag First Nation, died June 12.
New Brunswick RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh last month said the force responded to a report of an “unwanted person” at a home in Boom Road, about 30 kilometres from Miramichi, at 7:40 p.m.
Police say responding officers found a man holding knives. Rogers-Marsh said police attempted to use a Taser several times unsuccessfully. An officer then shot Levi.
Levi’s death happened eight days after Chantel Moore was fatally shot by a municipal police officer in Edmundston during a wellness check. Edmundston police said Moore attacked the officer with a knife, but her family has questioned what led to her death.
The province previously announced an inquest will examine Moore’s death.
An inquest is also pending for the death of Michel Vienneau, who was shot by a Bathurst Police Force officer in January 2015. That inquest has yet to be scheduled.
There’s no timeline for when the inquests will occur.
Enos said the Moore and Levi inquests will follow the completion of any investigations and after any potential criminal court proceedings.
The actions of the RCMP and Edmundston officers are under investigation by Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, or BEI.
Investigations can take months
Sylvie Boutin, a spokesperson for the BEI, says its investigations can take eight to nine months to complete on average.
At the end of its investigation, it will submit its report to the coroner responsible for this investigation in New Brunswick, as well as to the New Brunswick Public Prosecution Service, which will determine whether to lay criminal charges against the police officers involved.
Moore and Levi’s deaths came during international protests against police brutality and sparked calls for a provincial inquiry into systemic racism in New Brunswick.
An inquest is separate from an inquiry.
First Nation leaders have repeatedly called for a provincial inquiry into systemic racism in policing and the justice system in New Brunswick.
Premier Blaine Higgs has resisted that call, suggesting instead a review of previous reports and recommendations and a push for a national inquiry into the systemic racism in the justice system and policing.