LONDON, ON: Today the Special Investigations Unit charged two police officers in the death of Debra Chrisjohn, a 39 year old mother from the Oneida Nation of the Thames, near London, Ontario. On September 7, 2016 Debra was brought to the attention of the police for obstructing traffic and arrested by Constable Nicholas Doering with the London Police Service. She was then transferred to Constable Mark McKillop with the Ontario Provincial Police because of an outstanding warrant related to a shoplifting charge.

Less than three hours after being arrested, Debra was pronounced dead at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. Both officers have been charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Robert Chrisjohn, Debra’s father, said that the family has been devastated by Debra’s death and that there are many unanswered questions. “Why didn’t the police take her to the hospital sooner when they knew she was sick and needed help?” he asked. “The police arrested her and were responsible for making sure she was okay. This happens way too often in our community. This happens all the time. The police just don’t seem to care,” he says.

“The family is pleased that charges have been laid, but this is just the beginning of a long legal process that will be very difficult for Debra’s family,” notes Caitlyn Kasper, staff lawyer at Aboriginal Legal Services and counsel for the family. “Aboriginal Legal Services has long been concerned with the relationship between Indigenous communities and the police. This is an important issue not just for Debra’s family, but for all Indigenous people across Ontario.”

The original statement can be downloaded here 2017-07-14 – Chrisjohn – Debra – Media Release – Stmt from Family