FREDERICTON — The chief of a New Brunswick First Nation that was home to a man killed by the RCMP last year says it was "infuriating" to learn Tuesday that no criminal charges would be laid in the case.
In a post on Facebook, Chief Bill Ward of the Metepenagiag First Nation, said his heart is with the Levi family.
"We can never forget or stop fighting for Rodney. It is infuriating to hear the results of the report when we all know how caring and kind Rodney was," he wrote Tuesday night.
The province's prosecutions service released its report Tuesday concluding the RCMP officers involved acted lawfully to protect themselves and civilians who were present at the home in Sunny Corner, N.B., where Levi was shot.
The prosecutions service based its decision on an investigation conducted by Quebec's police watchdog group, the Bureau des enquetes independantes.
Drawing from witness accounts, the report said Levi had recently spoken about wanting to be shot by police, and on the day he was shot he was waving knives and lunged toward an officer.
"This action followed repeated attempts to engage with Mr. Levi peacefully, and followed several applications of a Taser to disarm him from the dangerous weapons (knives) he refused to yield," the report said.
The commanding officer of the RCMP in New Brunswick said in a statement Tuesday that Levi's death was a tragedy that has deep repercussions for his loved ones, for the wider community and for RCMP employees in New Brunswick.
Assistant Commissioner Larry Tremblay said he would not offer any further comment on the Quebec watchdog's investigation, but he did comment in general about such situations.
"Use of force is never an action taken lightly. Our members become police officers knowing they may have to take protective actions that sometimes include lethal outcomes," he wrote. "They undergo rigorous and continual training to ensure they have the tools to respond appropriately in difficult circumstances."
He said regardless of the outcome, officers carry the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives.
Levi's killing came days after an Edmundston, N.B., police officer shot and killed Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, during a wellness check. Police allege she lunged at an officer with a knife, and her death was also investigated by Quebec's Bureau des enquetes independantes.
Moore, from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, had moved to the community in northwestern New Brunswick to be closer to her mother and young daughter.
New Brunswick's public prosecutions service announced on Dec. 23 that it had received the Quebec agency's report into her death and would take time to examine the findings.
Moore's great uncle, Joe Martin, says his family has yet to receive a report into her death, but he doesn't believe police were defending themselves.
"I don't believe for one minute that the police were defending themselves. That is totally unbelievable to me," he said Wednesday in an interview from Vancouver Island.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press