“No, no, no, no, no, nooooo. How could he get away with this?” asked the grief-stricken grandmother of Chantel Moore, Grace Frank, on her social media page. Today the family received word from New Brunswick Crown prosecutors that no charges will be laid against Edmundston Police Force Officer Jeremy Son.
The news comes three days after the first anniversary of the shooting death of 26-year-old Chantal Moore of Tla-o-qui-aht.
On June 4, 2020, Const. Son was dispatched to the home of Chantel Moore to perform a wellness check. According to Edmundston Police Force, Const. Son shot Moore multiple times in self-defence, after she approached him in a threatening manner with a knife.
Const. Son was not wearing a body camera.
“The Crown has concluded its review of the report from the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes du Québec (BEI) of its investigation following the death of Chantel Courtney Moore,” said a statement issued today by Public Prosecutions Services, Office of the Attorney General. “Ms. Moore died on June 4, 2020, outside her residence during a police intervention by a member of the Edmundston Police Force.”
“Based on the review of the evidence, it is of our opinion that in the early morning hours of June 4, the officer in question did believe, on reasonable grounds, that force or a threat of force was being used against him by Ms. Moore, that he shot at Ms. Moore for the purpose of defending or protecting himself and that his actions were reasonable under the circumstances,” continued the prosecutor’s office in the written statement.
The statement goes on to say that the officer’s actions were reasonable given that he had few options available to him with “a potential lethal threat approaching him quickly”, having no other escape option available on the third-floor balcony he was confined to, and following repeated orders that Ms. Moore drop the weapon she was holding.
Through her anguished tears, Martha Martin, Chantel’s mother said, “I feel like I can’t breathe…but this is not surprising. It sucks. When you’re the police, it feels like you can always find reasons to get away with things like this.”
“When there’s no body cams, there’s no transparency and it’s always going to be a one-sided story. My daughter isn’t alive to tell her side,” said Martin.
The purpose of the Crown’s review was to determine if criminal charges are warranted against the police officer involved in the shooting. They say that the evidence presented to Public Prosecutions Services does not establish a reasonable prospect of conviction. Therefore, they will not proceed with criminal charges against the police officer.
“As the Crown’s review of this file has concluded, we have decided to make publicly available the legal opinion prepared on this matter,” stated the Public Prosecutions Services.
The prosecutor’s office went on to say that the Office of the Chief Coroner has committed to holding an inquest into the death of Ms. Moore.
“This is a public process that will review the evidence related to this matter, including witness testimony, and make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths,” they stated.
Martha Martin is consulting with her lawyer about next steps. They are considering filing a civil lawsuit.
“I had a small glimmer of hope for some fairness, some justice, but we know us Indigenous people never get justice for our people,” she said.
A statement issued today by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council says the outcome “is reflective of Canada’s persisting colonization and genocidal practices.”
“The biggest problem with this case is that it is only the police officer’s statement that the Crown depends on for a large part of the evidence,” said President Judith Sayers. “There was no body cam, there was no witnesses so this police officer will say what he has to in order to save himself. I have never understood how an armed, large police officer was scared of a 5-foot, 100- pound woman with a small knife in her hand if she had one. Shooting four times is excessive force by anyone’s standards except the Crown counsel.”
“The circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Moore are tragic,” said the prosecutor’s office. “Chantel was a beloved daughter, mother, sister and friend. She was a member of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia who had recently moved to New Brunswick to be closer to her family. We offer our deepest sympathies to her loved ones and to the communities touched by this loss.”
Martin plans to head to the New Brunswick Legislature on June 8 to put up yellow ribbons in Chantel’s memory.
“I’m angry but I’m not surprised,” said Martin, vowing to keep pushing the yellow dress campaign, seeking justice for all Indigenous people killed by police.